The quarterly Global Video Index published by online video platform Ooyala offers the rather unsurprising insight that video has a different viewing profile depending on the region in which it is watched. It turns out that North America had the lowest proportion of viewing on smartphones and tablets, although it seems it is all relative.

Ooyala has published its Global Video Index every quarter for over five years, in an attempt to characterise the world of online video viewing.

It is based on aggregate data from over 500 Ooyala customers, with a claimed collective audience of hundreds of millions of viewers from nearly every country in the world.

They include Sky Sports, NBCUniversal, RTL from Germany, M6 from France, TV4 from Sweden, Mediaset from Spain and Mediacorp from Singapore.

However, no actual numbers for video views are provided. For a company that promotes its platform on the basis of “world-class video analytics” any hard numbers are hard to find.

The Ooyala web site says it reaches 220 million unique monthly viewers worldwide. Back in 2011 it was a 100 million. Yet we are no wiser about how much video they are viewing.

As Ooyala rightly points out, the report does not document online viewing as a whole, but it claims to provide a representative view of viewing trends.

It is all relative. You will struggle to find any absolute metrics. Over half of all video starts occurred on mobile devices, up to 58% in December, with nearly 50% on smartphones.

Mobile overtook desktop viewing in North America and Asia Pacific in 2016, but desktop still has a slightly higher share in Latin America and EMEA.

Ooyala Global Video Index 2013-2016 Percentage of mobile and tablet video plays. Source: Ooyala.

This appears to present rapid growth of video viewing on a phone, at least as a share of views on the Ooyala platform.

The future is mobile, we are told, but relative to what? Almost certainly relative to video on personal computers, but what about the television? Many of the Ooyala customers mentioned are already on television, so it is to be expected that growth will come from mobile screens. But how significant is mobile viewing overall?

Cisco tells us in its Visual Networking Index that by 2021 more people will have mobile phones than running water. Such is progress.

Of course mobile video is growing, from a relatively small base.

Nielsen data shows that the average American adult spent 36 minutes a week watching video on a smartphone, rising to 1 hour and 11 minutes for those aged 18-24. That is just over 10 minutes a day.

In comparison, this group watches less television than any other, but still manages to spend 14 hours 21 minutes a week watching live or time-shifted television on a television. That is over two hours a day, or 12 times as much as they watch on their phone.

The bottom line, according to Ooyala, is that “we are in the midst of a content revolution, driven by an equally revolutionary change in the way content is consumed.”

“Where online content once was seen as supplemental to traditional TV, it’s now replacing it,” we are told. “Content creators, broadcasters and operators need to be aware of the sea change taking place and to be prepared to go with the flow.”

There is a lot of excitement about online video viewing but reliable data are hard to find.

The most striking thing about the Ooyala data is that, for its platform at least, tablet viewing has remained flat at under 10% of video plays, while viewing on a phone has risen from that level three years ago to around half of their views.

Yet without any detail about numbers of views or viewing duration, this relative change is difficult to quantify.

The Global Video Index is published by Ooyala and is available from the Ooyala web site.