The proliferation of smartphones and the subsequent entry of tablets have resulted in a major shift in mobile entertainment and mobile user behavior. Streaming media and video services, mobile TV and games etc., have re-defined digital entertainment ushering in a fresh experience for mobile users. The result is an unprecedented shot in mobile content availability and consumption. The perpetual increase in games and app downloads, average TV viewing times on mobile, and an expanding base in the mobile entertainment audience signals towards a substantial demand for such services currently and projects a steady growth for it in the future. The entertainment industry too is fast realizing the potential and benefits of adopting mobile as a key media to not only reach to a growing tribe of audience but also make content production and distribution agile and cost-effective.
So, what’s causing the ripples in the entertainment sector? What are the factors catalyzing the mobile entertainment boom? And how the mobile driven environment is taking shape? Our cover story this time focuses on mobile entertainment and studies the drivers, barriers, opportunities and the future ahead.
A few years ago, the concept of mobile entertainment just entailed ringtones, wallpapers, a few full tracks and video downloads and sharing the same with friends. You could of course carry a good amount of music, images and videos on your mobile phone, courtesy the memory card. But it has gone past that mark.
Latest studies by Juniper Research reveal strong growth among games and infotainment applications will drive mobile entertainment revenues from $36bn last year to over $65bn annually by 2016. It also finds that growing satisfaction with mobile TV on tablets will raise average monthly viewing to 186 minutes per month in 2014. Mobile users who pay for music content will more than triple to reach 178 million by 2015. Mobile devices are challenging other entertainment mediums to be the preferred choice. And this change has touched upon every key function of the industry; from content production to promotion and distribution.The advent of mobile devices with large screens, rich multimedia functionalities supported with speedier bandwidth have led to democratized access to content anywhere and anytime. The consumer demand too has shifted. Now he wishes to get access to his favorite movie, sitcom, news or any other TV program on his primary device which is either a smartphone or a tablet. Mobile apps, on the other hand, have revolutionized the way people discover and view content. Every major movie, music and game studio today has released or is releasing an app which is becoming the access point for users to explore and enjoy their content. Entertainment has moved beyond a fixed slot and closed doors to on-demand and streaming.
A new research study from TVGuide.com finds that people are watching more TV now than ever.Forty-two percent viewers are watching more streaming content than last year, and 89 percent of respondents said that they discovered new shows on demand or online after episodes or seasons aired. Further, Thirty percent of respondents who pay for video said that they are watching more paid video than they did in 2011. And, 68 percent of respondents are watching one to five hours of video per week via apps on their mobile devices.
The ubiquity of mobile devices, the growing ownership of smartphones, rise in mobile internet adoption and speed; and realization of mobile as a major distribution channel by content producers are the key drivers behind the massive growth in mobile entertainment. Furthermore, app stores provided a perfect platform for content producers to promote and distribute their content cost-effectively which led to massive upsurge in the usage. Brands too have realized the importance of mobile devices as a perfect distribution channel and the result is the availability of thousands of free apps and games making the audience hooked to their devices.
Gaming: Sophisticated features of mobile phones and tablets have resulted in immersive games with engaging game-plays. There has been a significant change in the gamer profile as gaming no more is restricted to teenagers. A typical mobile user is aged between 20 to 25 years and we are witnessing a significant interest for games in the 40+ age group. Mobile social games have gained tremendous traction of late.
Music: Mobile entertainment is also bringing tremendous opportunities to the music industry. Mobile apps are aiding the industry in reaching to a new audience, drive-up paid content and retain customers by continuously engaging with him. The success of apps like Spotify, Last.fm, Pandora and Shazam etc., serves as a good example for other players to reach their audience via apps and benefit from it.
Gambling: Mobility is also serving as a potent tool for the gambling industry. Mobile apps serve as a great medium for casinos and others in the gambling industry to reach to their audience and allow them to place their bets from anywhere and anytime.
TV: For the TV industry, mobile apps have emerged as successful enhancement. In addition to allowing viewers to watch their favorite programs on-the-move thereby increasing eyeballs and TRP; the apps are also great tools for the channels to engage their audience through social media sharing, recording, information on stars, upcoming programs, teasers, reminder alerts and polls etc.
Movies: The movie industry, struggling to attract people to the theatres and multiplexes, has found mobility as a great solution to create buzz before the release of a movie. A mobile game based on the movie characters and mobile app with trailers, star cast interviews, release updates etc., have proven to be immensely successful in luring the audience and getting the cash registers ringing.
Content Production: Mobility is also playing a great role in the production phase with apps developed to connect and monitor recording devices, pre-visualization composers for storyboards and set-designing etc.
Brand Promotion: There is tremendous scope for brands to use mobile entertainment to engage with an exploding mobile connected consumer base and interact with them. And, businesses are slowly realizing the potential of promoting their brands through games and cater to their instant gratification for products and services. Early adopters like Coca-Cola, Nike etc., had reasonable success through it encouraging others to make mobile games a key element of marketing and branding.
The mobile entertainment market has changed radically, in scale and shape, over the past few years. Mobile content once driven by value added services like ringtones, caller tunes, wallpapers etc., is now being driven by streaming videos, high-end gaming, social media tools and other entertainment apps. According to Juniper Research, the global mobile entertainment is estimated to reach $65.9 billion in 2016 from $36.1 billionin 2011, registering a CAAGR of over 12%. Mobile gambling is predicted to grow by a CAAGR of 29% from $1.2 billion in 2011 to $4.3 billion in 2016 fuelled by soaring usage of tablets. According to the research report, adult content is estimated to grow at a CAAGR of 19%. The mobile music sector, which as recently as 2008 accounted for nearly 42% of revenues in the industry is still expected to remain the biggest sector in the industry. However, the sector will see a decline of CAAGR 2.2% over the forecast period with games and social media occupying twice the worth of mobile music market.
While mobility offers great benefits to various players in the entertainment industry to reach to a wider audience, engage with them and improve profitability, there are still many challenges that the industry needs to address to realize full-scale benefits from mobility. Mobile is a different medium which is still in its early years and therefore finding the right user-interface to optimize user experience and easy facilitation to discover and view content is a challenge which many mobile content producers are struggling to answer. Secondly, mobile devices differ in form, capabilities and functionalities, calling for a content format and delivery mechanism that will be suitable to all devices. While many parts of the globe are experiencing speedier bandwidth in 4G LTE, still there remains a large area which is only covered with relatively slower internet coverage. The content produced and distributed should also be compatible with varying internet speed without compromising the quality. Moreover, mobile entertainment consumes a lot of data making it expensive to enjoy it on their devices for users. The high cost data services are a big impediment in the wider adoption of mobile entertainment services. Also, security in mobile payment transactions for paid-content services needs to be addressed to gain the confidence of users and push the volumes for it.
Embrace mobile entertainment: The common assumption that people watch a video or play a game on mobile only when they are on-the-go is quickly changing. In fact 47% of people play games on smartphones and tablets at home. So, mobile is fast emerging as the preferred device for entertainment and that’s why it makes perfect sense for you to adopt it whole-heartedly.
Understand mobile as a medium: Mobile devices have their limitations. And mobile users have very little attention span. Create content that syncs well with the medium.
Understand mobile users: A large part of the mobile entertainment audience particularly the gaming audience is different from what we have seen traditionally. This population is into gaming to have instant fun for a few minutes. They want simple games with easy goals to achieve yet compelling game play with no time commitments. Reaching the next level doesn’t give them as much high as spending a few minutes and achieving a few goals. The huge popularity of ‘Angry Birds’ can be a good case in point in understanding how a simple game play can be a huge success.
A long-term roadmap: Adding new features to your app will keep the excitement level up compelling users to return. Also, keep it in sync with the changing times. Technology is moving faster and so is the audience.
Monetizing it: What will be your revenue model? Mobile entertainment services offer plentiful opportunities to earn revenues. You can either offer free content and earn from advertising or earn through paid content or do both. Decide before you begin.
Mobility is the future of entertainment. As the technology evolves further and costs of mobile devices and data services go down, we will see an upsurge in mobile content consumption particularly the video-rich services and mobile TV. Newer technologies like Augmented Reality, Mobile Peer to Peer (P2P), Near Field Communications (NFC), 3D in mobile etc., which are at nascent stages, will further gain traction to make entertainment services richer and engaging. Mobile entertainment, which is still a luxury for a large part, will soon join mainstream. And that’s where the audience and money is. Get ready to tap it!