HBO Go tops Netflix in mobile usage time

Streaming service maintains edge in app reach

If Reed Hastings needs another reason to hope for a partnership with HBO, new data on mobile video consumption isn’t going to change his mind.

The HBO Go app on smartphones is seeing subscribers watch more than three times the minutes per viewing session than its arch rival Netflix, which has a commanding lead of its own when it comes to the amount of amount of users who access apps from these devices. The data was derived from a panel of 700 users NPD Group monitored in April for its Connected Intelligence Video SmartMeter Report.

HBO Go viewers watch nearly 50 minutes per session, which is roughly comparable to the running time of an average episode of one its hourlong dramas, including “True Blood” and “Game of Thrones.”

But Netflix watchers are only taking in about 15 minutes per viewing session, a broad difference that NPD analyst Linda Barrabee chalked up in part to the fact that the running times for many of the TV series Netflix has have shorter running times because they are licensed from the networks without the commercials that are included on air.

Barrabee added that on a daily basis via mobile, HBO Go generated over 20 minutes of video consumption, compared with 9 minutes for Netflix. She suggested the month may be an “outlier” that could change significantly month to month.

The data gives a glimpse of how different kinds of long-form content performs on smartphones, which tend to favor short-form consumption. Neither Netflix nor HBO has ever broken out what percentage of their viewing is done on smartphones as opposed to other devices from TVs to gaming consoles.

While Netflix finished a distant second to HBO in minutes per session, it was still ahead of a field of branded apps that deliver video including third-place finisher XfinityTV, which is Comcast’s digital platform for authenticated viewing. HBO Go also requires authentication.

Rounding out the category (in order) was TMobile HDTV, Crackle, YouTube, Vevo, Sprint TV, Flixster Movies and Google Play Movies.

Netflix was still ahead of the pack in terms of the percentage of users on smartphones who access the app, with 17%–nearly double what second- and third-place finishers Flixster and Google Play registered. HBO Go’s high consumption times are disproportionate to the number of people who are accessing its app, with the brand reaching just a small single-digit percentage of users.

That might come as some comfort to Hastings, who surprised analysts on Netflix’s second-quarter investor’s letter by suggesting HBO could end up a partner of the streaming service’s–a prospect subsequently batted down by the pay cabler.

NPD Group only tracked video consumption of Android-powered smartphones but is expected to extend its Connected Intelligence to iOs users of both smartphones and tablets later this year.