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AT&T and Verizon’s Video Services May Stagnate

December 12, 2015 - Written By Daniel Fuller

AT&T and Verizon have both put plans in motion to launch mobile-friendly video services recently, with Verizon calling their initiative Go90 and AT&T planning to make good use of their purchase of cable provider DirecTV. Both services are meant to bring premium content to devices on their respective networks, coming at a fairly opportune time to combat T-Mobile’s BingeOn initiative, which allows users to stream most video services, aside from YouTube, without chewing through their high speed data allotment for the month. All three of them could face a bit of trouble getting their new video initiatives to catch on, however, as Telstra subsidiary Ooyala recently pulled data that indicates a possible plateau in mobile viewing growth.

Adoption of the small screen for big content has been on the rise in a big way until very recently. Numbers indicating mobile video viewing versus other sources point to one thousand percent growth in the mobile video space leading up to the first quarter of 2015, but with a negative bubble of sorts showing growth slowing down to a slightly lesser 840 percent from the second quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of this year. For premium providers signing mobile deals and carriers beginning to roll out TV-worthy content for their subscribers, these numbers could mean trouble. They may seem quite high, but they seem to correspond with mass adoption of the smartphone. As more and more reluctant first time owners ditched their dumbphones, numbers soared. What these new figures seem to indicate, however, is that most users are unwilling to give up watching the big game on a big television. Access from PCs has tapered significantly as well, making it hard to imagine laptop movie watchers cannibalizing the mobile growth figures.

All signs seemingly point to a slow, if not halting, shift from the living room to the screen in a user’s pocket. For AT&T and Verizon in particular, and T-Mobile to a lesser degree, this means their investments in the mobile video space may not see the kind of return they had hoped for. While the bigger players face a fairly serious loss if their programs aren’t up to par, T-Mobile’s BingeOn is mainly in the interest of customer gain and retention, pointing to a loss only as big as the data cost given up for the program, should it flop.