Deeper Dive—Xumo might be figuring out mobile video

Despite the pitfalls in mobile video, new challengers are stepping up. (Pexels)

Mobile is a tricky landscape for video services, one that’s necessary to enter but difficult to control. AVOD service Xumo may be emerging as a viable mobile video competitor.

Last year, Xumo CEO Colin Petrie-Norris said that more than 94% of his company’s viewership comes through smart TVs. That’s due largely to the company’s integrations with smart TV manufacturers. For example, Xumo runs LG’s Channel Plus service, and it is also a remote button partner for Vizio.

Petrie-Norris told FierceVideo that smart TVs still account for the majority of Xumo’s viewership, but that mobile is growing its share of that time, thanks to the snackable video app the company launched with T-Mobile’s prepaid service Metro and Xumo’s own mobile application.

“T-Mobile is a big partner of ours, and we’re seeing that mix start to change. Historically our consumption has been as high as 94%-95% on TVs. I’d expect that this year will be quite different and mobile will become a much bigger part of it,” Petrie-Norris said.

The fact that Xumo is having some success on mobile is notable since smartphones can make it tough to hold a viewer’s attention. Colin Dixon, digital media analyst and strategic consultant at nScreenMedia, broke down how different the viewing experience is on a smartphone versus a connected TV.

“When you’re watching something on a connected TV, nothing on that connected TV will interrupt your viewing. That is completely the opposite on a smartphone,” Dixon said, pointing toward applications like messaging, social media, email and games that are all competing for attention on a typical smartphone.

Another reason mobile video is difficult is because so much online video viewing is happening on big screens. Parks Associates found that 52% of U.S. broadband households surveyed now watch online video (SVOD, AVOD, etc.) on a connected TV. Conviva said connected TV viewing hours increased 121% in 2018 and that connected TVs represented 56% of all streaming viewing hours for the year.

It’s also important to note that YouTube already dominates mobile. According to Sandvine’s Mobile Phenomena report from earlier this year, YouTube accounts for 35% of all global mobile internet traffic.

These are all contributing factors to the fear of Go90-ing one’s self. Verizon’s splashy Go90 mobile video service received tons of funding after its launch in 2015, but still crashed and burned just three years later. But, Go90 certainly isn’t the first service to bomb on mobile: FLO TV and Vessel are two other examples of mobile video services whose grand ambitions didn’t pan out.

Despite the pitfalls in mobile video, new challengers are stepping up. Quibi, a short-form video service launching next year priced at $4.99 per month, is a prime example. Quibi’s ambition is to attract mobile users and the company is taking that mission seriously. It’s lined up loads of high-profile talent to fill out its content lineup, it’s keep the ad loads light and it’s formatting its show into bite-sized five to ten minute segments.

Like Quibi, Xumo is making a concerted effort to break through on mobile. The company’s snackable video service partnership with Metro is rolling out aggressively, and Petrie-Norris said that it has already had an enormous impact on Xumo’s overall numbers.

“[Mobile] has been a very quick growth area for us,” Petrie-Norris said.