Video consumption makes up more than half of India's mobile data traffic

11 February 2019 4 min. read
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Consistent with trends across the globe, the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector in India is expected to grow rapidly in the near future, according to a new report from global professional services firm Deloitte. Monthly mobile traffic in India will reach 5.5 exabytes by 2021. 

A report from global management consultancy Boston Consulting Group from 2017 predicted that the number of online users in India is expected to surpass 850 million across urban and rural areas by as early as 2025, which represents more than half of the country’s substantial population.

Alongside an overall trend of digitalisation, the growth in the number of online users is expected to be fuelled by the remarkably low prices of mobile data being supplied by Reliance Jio. Most of the country’s population is spread out in rural areas, and the dip in costs has made the online domain more accessible for this substantial chunk of the population.

Share of digital channels in fixed deposit investments

Growth in the number of online users is expected to drive growth in other sectors that are dependent on the digital domain. One such sector is the country’s media & entertainment industry, which will reportedly reach a value of nearly $35 billion by 2021 on the back of an increase in OTT consumption

Digital advertising is another sector that is expected to achieve unprecedented growth over the next few years, primarily due to the expansion of the online customer base. In its new report on forecasts for the TMT sector, Deloitte has offered analysis on the various aspects of the economy that the digitalisation is expected to bring about.

Deloitte’s TMT report from last year revealed that the balance of urban and rural consumption of online content was shifting towards the latter, which was driving digital advertising revenues up as well. The report also offered analysis on the largest contributors to viewership in the country, the largest of which was the Indian Premier League.

The rise of video consumption

This year’s report reveals a continuation of these trends. The estimated online video audience in India for last year reached a size of 350 million, a figure that is expected to grow rapidly over the next two years to reach as many as 500 million users by 2020. 

The overall increase is accompanied by a further shift from urban to rural particularly in TV penetration. As of 2017, 87% of all urban households had direct television access, while the same figure for rural households stands at 52%. In absolute terms, however, rural households are likely to exceed urban households, given that the overall rural population is higher.

A similar story of growth can be narrated for the overall levels of mobile data traffic in India in the recent past, which have been growing at exponential rates. Where the monthly mobile data traffic in 2016 was 0.1 exabytes, the figure had jumped to 1 exabyte by 2017 and 1.5 exabytes by 2018.

Mobile data traffic in India

By the end of this year, the monthly traffic is expected to reach as high as 2.8 exabytes. Deloitte also offers predictions for beyond this year, placing the levels of traffic at 3.6 exabytes for 2020 and 5.5 exabytes for 2021. Most of this traffic is accounted for by video consumption.

As per the report, video consumption constituted 53% of all mobile data consumption in 2017, and is expected to grow to 75% of all consumption by 2021. Similar claims have been made by BCG recently, attributing this growth to over the top video consumption in the country.