LONDON: Mobile is on course to become the most popular screen for viewing videos in the UK, according to a new report that found video-viewing on smartphones is already on a par with desktops or laptops.

For its State of the Industry: Mobile Video Report, tech firm AOL commissioned a survey of consumers and media buyers across seven markets – the UK, US, Canada, France, Japan, Southeast Asia and Australia.

The UK segment of the AOL study, which is being released ahead of the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, showed that some 52% of UK consumers watch videos on their smartphones every day – the same proportion as those who watch videos on their desktops or laptops.

As smartphone adoption continues its upward trajectory, 54% of UK consumers also reported that they now watch more online video than a year ago.

Indeed, nearly three-quarters (71%) of consumers in the UK say they can't live without their smartphones or always have to have their device within arm's reach.

AOL also noted that the attention spans of online consumers are rapidly shrinking, making it more likely that they will watch video content as long as it's short.

According to the findings, around a third (32%) of UK consumers watch videos that are under five minutes long or less every day, while just 17% watch videos of 10 to 20 minutes' duration.

Turning to immersive formats, AOL reported that 60% of UK consumers regularly watch live video content on their smartphones, while just under a third (29%) use their smartphone to experience virtual reality (VR).

However, the UK remains slower than the rest of the world in terms of VR take-up, with AOL reporting that 31% of US consumers and 21% of consumers in Southeast Asia are expected to watch more videos in VR over the next 12 months, compared to just 9% in the UK.

The AOL study also identified what it saw as the three biggest opportunities for mobile video in the UK in 2017.

When asked about what excited them most about the development of mobile videos, some 42% of advertisers and publishers in the UK cited granular audience targeting, followed by videos of under one minute (38%) and TV to mobile retargeting (37%).

"With these opportunities, advertisers are shifting more money away from TV budgets," the report said. "When asked about the channels their TV budgets are shifting to, 61% of UK advertisers stated mobile video."

Data sourced from AOL; additional data by Warc staff