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2009 will be the year of mobile video: Nielsen

Lack of awareness, differentiating capabilities, compelling content is what is holding back the further adoption of mobile video in the United States, according to market researcher Nielsen.

The expanded use of mobile Web and mobile Web video, the rollout of mobile digital television and improved adv subsidy to subscription-based streaming mobile video services could grow the mobile video opportunity to benefit carriers, device manufacturers, content providers, advertisers and consumers.

"I think what we paint in this white paper is that there is a lot of opportunity for mobile video and a lot of opportunity for mobile marketers in this space because we see higher-than-average ad receptivity among mobile video users," said Nic Covey, Chicago-based director of insights for Nielsen.

"Marketers need to be monitoring mobile video very closely in 2009," he said. "In 2008 marketers spent a lot of time looking at mobile apps and the mobile Web. Mobile video will be more important this year than last."

The Nielsen study found that the most popular means of mobile video consumption in the U.S. is mobile Web video: 66 percent of mobile video users say they consume their mobile video through mobile Web.

In comparison, 42 percent of mobile video penetration can be attributed to subscription, 52 percent to downloaded clips and 42 percent to applications.

Also, the study found that Apple's iPhone is at the forefront of this mobile media. As of the third quarter of 2008, already 11 percent of all streaming video users were using an Apple iPhone.

According to the study, comedy makes the most popular mobile video content.

In fact, 40 percent of mobile video viewers in third quarter said they watched comedy content an of average of 10 minutes per session.

Overall, users are satisfied, the study found. A whopping 71 percent of mobile video viewers said they were satisfied with the mobile video experience.

"Mobile video can work today because 224 million mobile subscribers already carry devices in their pockets that, if not presently capable of mobile video consumption, will be the next time they upgrade their device," the study says.

"Already, 109 million mobile subscribers carry devices capable of viewing some form of video content -- they just need to turn it on," it says.

Although the mobile video market grew in 2008, the overall use of mobile video is low compared to other mobile media: Internet, ringtones and games, for example.

As of third quarter, the mobile video audience skews more male than female.

Mobile video users are considerably more likely to be younger -- 64 percent of all mobile video users are under the age of 35, compared to just 35 percent of all subscribers.

Additionally, blacks and Hispanics continue to be disproportionately represented in the mobile video audience when compared to the total subscriber base.

As of third quarter, 14 percent of the mobile video audience was black (non-Hispanic) and 24 percent of the audience was Hispanic (compared to just 9 and 13 percent of all subscribers, respectively).

"Mobile video is still overall too expensive for subscribers," Mr. Covey said. "What we outline in this study is that the cost must go down while at the same time it is key to make more content available."