Chinese smartphone usage is poised to overtake time spent watching television. The smartphone obsessed nation is the largest market in the world for the nearly ubiquitous little rectangle that is in nearly every pocket, and has seen phone usage rocket in the past few years; 2018 will see it grow by a further 11%. This will boost the average Chinese person’s total time spent on the device to 2 hours and 39 minutes every day. Television viewing time, meanwhile, is set to drop 2% this year, bringing that figure down to 2 hours and 32 minutes.
While there are many reasons why phone usage time is going up, perhaps the most crucial one is the expansion of digital video services. While in the west that market is dominated by YouTube and Netflix, there are three competing providers in China. Each is provided by one of the BATs (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent), the powerhouses of Chinese tech, as well as a whole host of also-rans. Alibaba, the online marketplace, owns and operates Youku, the oldest video sharing and streaming site in China. Tencent offers Tencent Video, while Baidu, the popular search engine, has iQiyi as part of its stable.
These high usage stats are also helped by the penetration mobile phones have made into the Chinese market. There are over 700m smartphones in use in China, though they only represent 51% of the population. There still appear to be plenty of dumbphone users in the Asian superpower, and with increasing penetration of what is the icon of the 21st Century, this is sure to increase over the next few years.
Phone networks are getting better, faster, and more reliable, which is also driving people to consume media content increasingly on their phones. With a much broader choice of video, TV shows, and movies, as well as having all those options ready to play on demand, available on their smartphones, it is unlikely that Chinese audiences will turn their eyes back to their television sets.