Facebook shifts to video as demand soars

Facebook. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Facebook. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town - Facebook may yet prove to be the biggest threat to Google's YouTube as an increasing number of people on the social network watch video.

According to Facebook, half of the network's US users watch at least one video every day.

And Facebook is paying attention. The company is adapting to the demand for video by shifting the strategy of its 'News Feed' as video on the platform increased by 3.6 times in the last year.

"With the explosive growth of video on Facebook, it is exciting to see News Feed become the centre of discovery for this work," said Mark D'Arcy, chief creative offer of Facebook's Creative Shop.

A Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update found that global internet traffic increased by 81% in 2013, making it 18 times the size of the entire internet in 2000.

Mobile

A key driver was video which made up 53% of all web traffic in 2013.

"Video Mega Trends will similarly transform digital imaging, with ultra HD video, enhancing the viewing experience on televisions, smartphones, augmented reality glasses, tablets, and camera-equipped devices," said Cisco.

And most of that video will be consumed on mobile devices, as smartphones and tablets become the default tool for people to access the internet.

According to data from Ericsson's Mobile Data Traffic Growth report for 2013 to 2019, the Sub Saharan region's data appetite is huge and expected to grow at 65% to 2019 and beyond.

Put into perspective, mobile data in the region was at 37 000 terabytes (TB) per month in 2013, and that will jump to 76 000TB by the end of 2014, on its way to a mammoth 764 000TB by the end of 2019.


Modern smartphones require data to deliver a good user experience. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Social networks are well-poised to exploit internet video as people use the medium to communicate and share their experiences.

"Expressing ideas through film is a core aspect of how creative people love to bring ideas to life. We are only just starting to unlock the potential of sight, sound and motion in a feed-driven world," said D'Arcy.

While most video on Facebook is hosted on YouTube, that could change as Facebook becomes more active in the rich media space.

However, in SA, a big challenge to consumption of video is the cost of data, which, though it is in decline, still represents a grudge purchase for most internet users.


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