Last month, OpenSignal unveiled its first analysis of mobile video experience, which measures the quality of video consumers see when streaming over their mobile connections. We’ve already taken a broad look at video experience in countries around the world in our State of Mobile Video report. In the U.S., we see Verizon leading the video pack.
Despite the gap between the two pairs of operators, all four of them landed within the Fair category of our ratings. Fair means that mobile connections weren’t able to support high-resolution video without prolonged stalling and long wait times, but were able to handle low-resolution video with few problems. None of the U.S. operators were even close to achieving a perfect score, but Verizon users enjoyed the highest overall video experience score of 50.6, followed by T-Mobile at 48.2. Sprint and AT&T were some way behind with scores just above 40. For more information about OpenSignal’s video experience measure, please read this blog post.
The quality of mobile video experience enjoyed by smartphone users is incredibly important to all the U.S. operators because of their wider TV and video strategies:
- AT&T group owns HBO as well as other TV and movie assets as part of its WarnerMedia division. As a result, AT&T is not only concerned with the mobile video experience on its own network but also the experience offered by its rivals because consumers on Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will be using AT&T apps like HBO Go. While AT&T already offers a live TV streaming service, AT&T also plans to launch a new video streaming service by the end of 2019 including HBO and other Warner content.
- Sprint offers Hulu bundles on a number of its mobile plans. Typically, the maximum video quality differs based on the Sprint tariff that a consumer selects. The range is between what Sprint calls “DVD quality” (480p) and “Full HD quality” which amounts to 1080p.
- Verizon markets TV, sports and movies as part of its mobile portfolio. And, like AT&T, Verizon has acquired a number of media companies, for example, AOL and Yahoo which are now part of its Oath division.
- T-Mobile offers a standard Netflix subscription for free with select mobile plans. Additionally, it includes mobile video as part of its “unlimited” offers, although video quality is limited to 480p on most of its plans.
The challenge for the operators is that all of them are marketing mobile video extensively which increases U.S. consumer demand for mobile video. The operators must then find a way to deliver large quantities of mobile video to their customers’ smartphones at a good-enough quality level. If they fail, and the mobile video experience is too poor, then customer satisfaction will drop and their customers will look elsewhere for mobile service.
This is an extremely tricky problem which is why U.S. operators manage their traffic. They’re trying to balance out the competing demands on their networks.
We’d love to hear about your personal experiences with mobile video in the U.S. Let us know in the comments section below or via Twitter.