Vadodara tops Video Experience as Tier-2 cities lead in India

Over the past few years India has seen a tremendous rise in smartphone penetration and access to wireless internet, making it increasingly convenient to consume online content at any time, anywhere, leading to a two-fold growth in digital video consumption in all forms of media in the past two years. With smartphones becoming the primary screen, and wireless internet the preferred mode to access content, the shift in video consumption habits has become very pronounced across the country, putting Indian operators in the prime position to provide consumers with quality video streaming services as the demand continues to grow. But how well is video rendering on Indian mobile networks?

Typical mobile Video Experience in India ranges from Fair to Good
In our recent State of Mobile Video Experience report, we saw India upgrade its national Video Experience rating from Poor to Fair, and in this analysis we delved further and examined 40 of India’s largest cities to see how they stacked up in our measure of users’ Video Experience, based on a combined score for all national operators across network technologies. We found that the typical urban Video Experience in India ranges from Fair to Good: users in 20 out of 40 cities enjoyed a Good Video Experience (50-65) and in the remaining 20 cities perceived a Fair Video Experience (40-55). So what does that mean exactly? It means for much of the country, the typical mobile video experience leaves something to be desired. Video load times are sluggish; stops and stutters mid-stream are common to varying degrees; and connections often have trouble coping with higher-resolution formats, especially for those cities in the Fair category.

Before we delve further, it’s worth noting that the Indian Government splits the country’s cities into three tiers based on their population, with Tier-1 cities having the largest populations and Tier-3 cities having the lowest.

Vadodara tops the charts as Tier-2 cities lead Video Experience in India
Across all 40 cities, our users in Vadodara enjoyed the best overall Video Experience in India. The city,  in the state of Gujarat, which is home to some 6.8 million mobile users topped our charts with a score of 60 points. Coimbatore and Gwalior trailed closely behind separated by one or less than one point to finish in second and third place respectively.

On the other hand, we saw two cities — Madurai and Ahmedabad — come neck and neck for the fourth place; but the former, a Tier-2 city, differentiated itself marginally with a score of 58.3 to put Ahmedabad (58) in the fifth position. It was noteworthy that Ahmedabad was the only Tier-1 city to end up in the top five. In fact, only four out of eight Tier-1 cities made their place in the top 20 with Chennai (57.7), Kolkata (56.4) and Hyderabad (55.6) ranking 8th, 13th and 15th respectively, while Bengaluru (54.4) was less than a point shy to secure the same. The remaining Tier-1 cities fell further below, with Mumbai (52.7) ranking 37th and the national capital, Delhi (52), ranking 40th — worst Video Experience across the compared cities

These variations in users’ Video Experience, as observed from our real world measurements, signify that the existing mobile networks in these highly populated urban centers are struggling to keep pace with the ever growing demand of data consumption.

Airtel has an edge in Video Experience
As we’ve already seen, mobile video in India is booming and it is also behind the country’s impressive growth in total data traffic with users spending more time streaming and sharing video on all platforms, be it OTT apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime or Social media apps Facebook, Youtube and TikTok. This indicates that Video Experience is becoming increasingly important to Indian consumers, hence any operator who provides greater Video Experience definitely has an edge, and at present Airtel clearly holds that advantage. In our latest Indian State of Mobile Network report the operator won the Video Experience category nationally for the second report in a row and slightly extended its lead over Vodafone, which took second place.