Adobe research finds mobile sports viewing driving huge growth in digital video

One namesake trend we focus on here at Mobile Sports Report — watching sports online or on mobile devices — is the primary driver of the continued worldwide growth in digital video consumption, according to the latest comprehensive study put together by software giant Adobe.

In the Adobe Digital Index Benchmark Report for Q4 2013, the survey looked at digital video, spanning 2012 and 2013 and using aggregated and anonymous data from more than 600 media and entertainment sites. According to Adobe the survey analyzed 22.5 billion online video starts, half a billion mobile video starts as well as 574 million authenticated streams from cable providers’ “TV Anywhere” implementations. The survey also asked 400 sports fans about their viewing habits. While there’s lots of chewy bits to digest, the killer line from the research says, in part: “The trends outlined in this report clearly demonstrate that sports viewing is the engine behind digital video growth.”

Well WE could have told you that. But it’s nice to see solid data backing up our directive assumptions.

Just how potentially big is online and mobile sports viewing? While the Adobe report is just one (albeit comprehensive) set of data, some points jump out, like the one that found that sports video streams increased 640 percent, year over year, compared to an overall growth of 440 percent for all types of content. On the TV Everywhere side, sports events accounted for 37 percent of all streams, compared to 32 percent for news programs and 28 percent for TV shows. Again, no surprise to us: People like the ability to watch sports live, whenever they can. And mobile devices help them do just that.

Campbell Foster, director of product marketing for Adobe Primetime, the company’s TV publishing infrastructure platform for service providers, said the data back up what many other industry observers have noted about sports: It is engagement viewing that fans don’t want to miss, so they use whatever device they can to watch.

“The nature of the content [in sports] is perishable, so sports is something people want to watch live,” said Foster, in a phone interview to discuss the report’s findings. Another nugget from the report is that one quarter of all sports digital viewing now happens on mobile devices, a 73 percent year-over-year increase. And though tablets lead all forms of non-TV devices for video viewing, streams on smartphones and gaming consoles are also growing rapidly, a finding we take as meaning that the top of mobile and online viewing is a long way away.

Some other interesting points from the report include:

— Facebook leads the way with social referred video starts
— Half of visits referred from Facebook or Tumblr to sports related sites result in a video view (vs. 39 percent for YouTube, and 25 percent for Twitter)
— Most video starts come directly from search to branded sites, with social referrals accounting for just 6 percent of all streams
— Apple iOS devices are still killing the competition, with more than a 50 percent market share

It will be interesting to see how other industry outlets react to the Adobe report, which we think has the chance to become the online video industry’s informational equivalent of the Cisco Visual Networking Index. At the very least, Adobe’s attempt to quantify the surge of online sports video use we see in our reporting and analysis every day is admirable, and it puts some stakes in the ground for further discussions about audience value, ROI of mobile, and potential new businesses that can be crafted from the idea that a new audience type is not only emerging but continuing to expand.

Adobe chart showing growth in sports streams. (click for larger view)

Adobe chart showing growth in sports streams. (click for larger view)

Breakdown of video streams for TV Everywhere (click for larger view)

Breakdown of video streams for TV Everywhere (click for larger view)

Adobe, NBC Team Up for Real-Time Olympic Action Apps

When NBC announced plans to stream every single bit of Olympic action from London this summer, you knew eventually there would be an app for that. Today, NBC and Adobe announced they’ve been working together to create apps for iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets. Here’s a short video blurb to explain:

What is confusing (and will no doubt frustrate many folks) is that there is not one, but TWO apps — one is called NBC Olympics, and one is called NBC Olympics Live Extra. The latter one is the one that’s most interesting. Read here to see what NBC says it does:

The NBC Olympics Live Extra app will live stream every athletic competition for the first time ever. In all, the app will live stream more than 3,500 total programming hours, including every athletic competition, all 32 sports, the awarding of all 302 medals as well as event rewinds. NBC Olympics Live Extra will also live stream the Olympic content that airs on the four NBCU cable channels – NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo.

In another first, NBC Olympics Live Extra will provide multiple concurrent streams for select sports, such as gymnastics (each apparatus), track and field (each event), and tennis (up to five courts). For example, during a session of track and field, instead of viewing only a single feed that moves from event to event, a user can choose to watch a stream dedicated to a specific event, such as the long jump or javelin.

Compared to that, the second app sounds like a forgotten orphan:

The second app, simply titled NBC Olympics, will provide short-form highlights, TV and online schedules, live results, columns and the new Primetime Companion feature – the ultimate complementary, second-screen experience for NBC’s nightly primetime Olympic broadcasts.

Well, OK. Maybe it was too hard to put two apps together? But we’re just glad to have the opportunity to watch online, so no more kvetching.

Of course, nothing this good could possibly be free but if you are already a paying customer for a cable contract that includes CNBC and MSNBC, you’re covered. How do you verify mobile devices so that you can watch? Here is a quick list from NBC:

— Download the NBC Olympics Live Extra app
— Open the app
— Tap the “Touch Here & Get Ready” callout
— Select your cable, satellite or telco provider
— Enter the username and password that corresponds with your account
You are signed in throughout the Games on that device!

Plus, NBC has also created an entire Live Extra Help Site page, complete with a video featuring Carson Daly. Why Carson Daly, we are not sure. But he does a very professional teleprompter-reading job of explaining how to set it up.

Friday Grab Bag — Jocks Twittering Guide Issue

No M&M’s in NASCAR
Kyle Busch will be forced to race in the last two Sprint Cup races without his primary sponsor as M&M’s pulls out. This is more of the aftermath of his cheap shot of intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. in the Truck Series two weeks ago. Busch was suspended from racing in the Sprint Cup last week and fined $50,000 by NASCAR. I had always thought that NASCAR encouraged this type of driving, who knew?

Twitter offers advice to Athletes on how to use Twitter

Twitter, which clearly understands how interesting athletes can be on Twitter, has issued an advisory for them on its developer site. The social media company tells them to talk about what they are passionate about, use hash tags, reply back to followers and mention your team mates among other tidbits of sage advice. Also it tells them that if something controversial happens on the field Twitter can help clear the air- no mention that it can also shorten a career, or is that just my take?

Apple releases iOS 5.01 battery fix
Apple has responded to complaints that the latest release of its iOS operating system, iOS 5.0, unnaturally drains batteries of iPhones. The company has released iOS 5.0.1 that has been designed to fix that issue as well as including several other bug fixes for both the phone and the iPad including document syncing via iCloud and improved voice recognition for Australian users.

Will ESPN’s Longhorn Network force a College Playoff?
An Interesting piece from Businessweek discusses how the $300 million, 20 year deal between the University of Texas and the Walt Disney Co. (parent to ESPN for those that are still unaware) was a major tipping point in collegiate athletics. The move led to the huge rash of conference realignments and movements as everybody tries to position themselves to get as much of the money that is on the table for themselves and tradition be damned. I think this line from the article says it all- “It’s greed,” said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University of Maryland system and co-chairman of the nonprofit Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. “There is so much money on the table that everyone is in a state of panic.”

This week in Lawsuit News

The patent wars continue unabated, which always makes for interesting watching as long as you are not personally at risk. First up is Microsoft which apparently has another target in its royalties pursuit, this time it has its eye on Huawei for Android patent license. Then there is the report that Google will be offering support to Android firms involved in lawsuits. Last but not least is the news that Apple continues Steve Jobs legal pursuit of Android developers for what it perceives as patent violations of its technology. Is this a great time to be a patent lawyer or what?

Major League Baseball to be Lockout Free?
The site covers a range of reports that indicate that MLB and the Players Union may be well on the road to reaching a new accord without the need for canceling the World Series or some other slap in the fans face. While the NBA is in lockout mode and the NFL just recovering from its labor war it is great news that at least one major league can work like adults well in advance of the expiration of the existing deal to forge a new one. I hope this does work out well.

Adobe throws in the towel on Mobile Flash
Adobe is facing the music and has announced that it will stop developing a version of its Flash technology for mobile devices. The technology has come under fire as Apple had banned its use in its iOS due to what it claimed was it did not meet the needs of a that space, a move that was later followed by Microsoft. At first Adobe fought back but now the company said it will turn its attention to HTML5 and will work with all of the major developers, Apple included, in that space.

From the “Just because it amuses me” Category
Nothing to do with sports, social media or technology but- Did you catch the photo in The Consumerist of a pig-shaped pork roast offered at Costco? Looks like it is ground and then molded pork scraps that are shaped like a baby piglet-somehow I am sure this will not make my dinner table anytime soon but who knows, it could make for a very interesting holiday gift!