We, at Ericsson, have talked a lot about the change mobile connectivity brings to developing markets in Africa and Asia. It has led to economic growth, sparked innovations, brought people together and made life easier for millions. We often refer to it as a major technology leap – more and more people have access to the internet for the first time on mobile devices, not over fixed connection on a desktop PC.

As we discuss how mobile internet usage impacts education, transport and healthcare in developing markets we have yet to observe the change of how TV and video content is being consumed. An increasing number of people will access TV (or any other video content) primarily on mobile devices on the go, thus jumping past the traditional consumption of linear television on big screens at home. According to the latest Ericsson ConsumerLab TV & Media report, 69% of consumers in South Africa prefer to have control over what to watch instead of following a schedule and 19% consider the mobile screen more important than the fixed big TV screen. The numbers are even higher, when looking at millennial viewers in particular – 72% and 24% respectively. This signifies that TV and media consumption will become more and more mobile and on-demand centric. And it is not only viewers’ opinions that point in that direction – TV viewing habits have changed as well – consumers in South Africa spend 12.6 hours weekly watching TV and video on mobile devices (phones and tablets) compared to 14.5 hours on big TV screens.

All this means that there will be implications not only for content delivery technology but also on how and what forms of content will be consumed. ‘Content leap’ might be the suitable term for this change – African consumers are leapfrogging not only past fixed telephone lines to mobile calls, but also past linear TV to streaming video on mobile devices. Consumers want to be in control and connect to video entertainment on their own terms.

So what does this mean in terms of technology, content consumption and monetisation change?

In terms of technology, growing mobile video viewing will put pressure on network capacity for mobile operators and until there is enough bandwidth and coverage for good quality video streaming, offline viewing and scheduled download on mobile devices will become the prevalent way of consuming video. These solutions are suitable for on-demand viewing but we are yet to see what technology will emerge to handle live content for viewers on the go.

Content consumption will also depend on the ease of finding content to watch – 46% of consumers in South Africa experience a challenge of finding anything to watch on traditional broadcast TV, on a daily basis and searching for content represents 27% of the time spent on VOD. These are astonishing numbers that point into the next innovation that can be expected – an efficient and effortless way to get content recommendations on your mobile devices considering past behaviour and preferences.

Video monetisation models will be another area to keep an eye on as content consumption will be impacted by the cost of mobile data. Currently, viewers limit their TV and video consumption on mobile devices, because they fear that their data packages will run out. The possibility of having unlimited data for TV and video consumption is something 56% of consumers in South Africa are interested in. So packaging mobile data with TV and video data allowance or finding new ways to charge for video consumption might be some ways to tap into video revenues.

As with many other industries, the shift to mobile is transforming TV too. But as with other industries, the transformation in Africa and Asia will be more profound in order to solve unique challenges and bring the right content to the right audiences whenever and wherever they want it.

Stan Dimitrov, Product Marketing Manager, Online Video Services and Sports Graphics

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