Smartphone viewers TV’s New ‘Holy Grail’

The number of consumers using tablets to watch TV and movies has sky-rocketed in recent years and many consumers bought tablets for the first time last year, according to a new annual consumer survey by Altman Vilandrie & Company.

The strategy consulting group notes that in August 2014, critics scoffed at comments by Apple CEO Tim Cook that tepid iPad sales were “speed bump”. However, the survey shows that tablets are more popular than ever: Tablet ownership increased to 50 per cent from 40 per cent in 2013 and the percentage of all consumers watching TV or movies on tablets weekly jumped to 26 per cent from 17 per cent last year.

“It turns out that Tim Cook was right and the demise of the tablet has been greatly exaggerated,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Director Jonathan Hurd, who oversaw the survey. “While tablet ownership saw solid gains, the significant growth of folks using a tablet to regularly watch TV and movies proves that this is a viewing platform that will be with us for the long haul.”

The survey also found that smartphones are now used weekly to watch TV or movies by more than 40 per cent of consumers under 35. Seventy-eight percent of ‘smartphone viewers’ watch paid online video weekly, vs. only 49 per cent of others, but 78 per cent also watch broadcast TV weekly, slightly above the 76 per cent rate of others. A ‘supermajority’ (71 per cent) of smartphone viewers also binge watch (i.e. watch three episodes of a programme in one sitting) at least monthly and 41 per cent use their cable provider’s TV Everywhere service every month. Overall, consumer awareness of TV Everywhere, which is generally included in a cable subscription, remains stubbornly low at 40 per cent compared to 58 per cent of smartphone users.

“Smartphone viewers watch more TV, are more aware of services and subscribe to more platforms than the typical consumer,” said Hurd. “They are the new Holy Grail for the TV industry and providers should be devising strategies for capturing this growing and active demographic, especially as more consumers are cutting back on their cable services.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • The phenomenon of cord shaving, or consumers spending less on cable, jumped from 26 per cent last year to 35 per cent in 2014. Now, more than half of consumers under 35 say they spend less on cable than they used to because they use internet video instead;

  • The percentage of consumers who considered cancelling cable service has doubled since 2010 (15 per cent to 30 per cent) but only rose slightly since 2013 (28 per cent);

  • The number of households not subscribing to cable TV due to online video remains low, at about 5 per cent of TV households, and more than 60 per cent of non-subscribing consumers under age 35 said it is likely they will subscribe to cable in the next five years.

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