Viacom: Tablets leading alternative for full-length TV viewing

Tablet devices have emerged as the leading second-screen alternative to television for viewing full-length episodes, according to Tapping Into Tabletomics, a new study from by Viacom. The research examines consumer behaviour and emotions around the tablet user-experience, with a focus on tablets as TV and the dual-screen experience.

Drawing on a national online survey of more than 2,500 people ages 8 to 54 as well as qualitative, in-depth interviews with dedicated tablet users in New York and Los Angeles, the study found that, in just a few years, tablets have risen to second-screen prominence for full-length TV (FLTV) show viewing, ahead of computers. Out of total time spent watching FLTV shows, 15 per cent of viewing occurs on tablets.

Since tablets came into play, FLTV show viewing on desktops and smartphones has declined the most. Top genres viewed on tablets — comedy and music — align more with computers than the TV. Reality is the top genre viewed on television, followed by drama, science fiction and sports.

MSO app users, Netflixers, Apple TV owners, AirPlay users and Whispersync users are very aggressive tablet users. These services lead to significantly higher levels of FLTV show watching on tablets.

  • Among tablet owners who subscribe to a cable company that offers streaming apps, about half report downloading the app. These MSO app users spend 20 per cent more time on their tablet than non-MSO app users.
  • 24 per cent of Airplay users watch FLTV shows on their tablets, while the same can be said for 22 per cent of MSO app users and 19 per cent of Netflix users.
  • Over one third of both AirPlay (35 per cent) and Whispersync (34 per cent) users say they watch more TV on their tablets because of these apps.

While watching television, many respondents use tablets to multitask or as a complementary experience via apps such as MTV’s WatchWith and VH1’s Co-Star, designed as add-ons, rather than distractions, to the television screen.

“Our audiences are some of the most deeply engaged and active across social platforms,” said Colleen Fahey Rush, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, Viacom Media Networks. “Co-viewing apps create more meaningful ways to reach them and represent an entirely new level of engagement for fans of our content.”

Overall, television continues to provide the best experience. When asked about everything from sound/picture quality to watching current episodes to ease-of-use, the TV experience won on every dimension. One participant said: “If I’m looking forward to watching a sporting event or going to watch my favourite TV show, I still watch them on TV because it’s just not the same. The iPad is too small to watch something like that.”

The study revealed the following behaviour from today’s tablet user:

  • 62 per cent use their tablets daily
  • Daily tablet users spend an average of 2.4 hours per day on their tablets
  • 85 per cent of tablet use is for personal reasons versus business
  • 77 per cent of tablet use is alone
  • 74 per cent of tablet usage is done at home
  • Most media activities on the tablet, such as playing games and watching TV shows, peak with the 18-24 demographic

The research reveals emotional connections to this device unlike any other in the household. More than 50 per cent of respondents said their tablet makes them feel happier and more relaxed, while 49 per cent said tablets make them more effective at managing life. Forty per cent agree that “my tablet brings out the best in me” and 39 per cent said tablets boost creativity.

One participant succinctly summed up her close relationship with her tablet: “The iPad is my form of entertainment, relaxation, fun, and opportunity to get information. It’s my personal space, in a sense.” However, not all tablet users feel the same. “

The study also revealed varying degrees of tablet love across four distinct segments of tablet users.

  • Power Trippers (18 per cent): younger users, often male, that love their tablets and use them for everything.
  • Cool & Efficient (23 per cent): frequent users that rely on tablets to be useful above anything else.
  • Happy-go-lucky (28 per cent): light users that view tablets as a friendly source of enjoyment and entertainment.
  • Proceeding with Caution (31 per cent): the lightest and often less technologically-savvy users that stick to basic activities.

“We found that the tablet is a jack of many trades — it offers video and social experiences, it’s a source of information and it’s portable. But despite its versatility, other devices prove irreplaceable,” suggested Rush.

While tablets provide both emotional and functional benefits, most tablet owners are not ready to purge their smartphones, laptops or gaming consoles. A vast majority, 65 per cent, would replace their laptop before their tablet because it lacks the work functionality, and 77 per cent would replace their iPhone before their iPad.

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