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Tablets, phones increasingly popular for TV viewing

Data from Hub Entertainment Research’s annual Finding Input One study shows dramatic growth in the use of tablets and smartphones for TV viewing. Among consumers 16-64 who watch some TV shows online:

  • Half use a tablet to view TV shows (51 per cent), a 15-point jump from just last year (36 per cent).

  • More than a third use a smartphone for TV viewing (37 per cent), up 7 points from 2014 (30 per cent).

  • More online content is being watched on TV sets. 71 per cent say they watch shows from online sources on a TV connected to the Internet, 9 points higher than last year.

  • Smart TVs in particular have made major strides. In 2015, 39 per cent of those who watch online shows on a TV set use a Smart TV, vs. 42 per cent who connect through a game console, the most popular connection device. That gap has closed rapidly since 2013, when consumers were twice as likely to use game consoles than Smart TVs (52 per cent to 25 per cent).

However, the popularity of mobile devices for TV viewing has NOT created a demand for streaming live TV to tablets and smartphones.

  • For example, only 8 per cent of consumers say it’s essential to be able to watch episodes of scripted shows on a phone or tablet live, at the same time they air, and just an additional 20 per cent consider it very important.

  • Even live sports is not considered a must-have on mobile devices. A mere 10 per cent of consumers consider it essential to be able to watch live sports events on tablets and phones, and only 16 per cent say it’s very important.

  • But tech-loving Millennials must attach more importance to live TV on mobile? Not really: only 11 per cent of 18-34 year olds call live sports on mobile essential, with 20 per cent calling it very important.

Other key findings from the study:

  • 53 per cent of 16-34 year olds use a device other than a traditional pay-TV set-top box as their default for TV viewing—the first device they turn on to watch TV programming.

  • Consumers are increasingly taking TV capabilities into account when purchasing multifunctional devices. For example, over 6 in 10 who use a game console to watch online say that TV viewing was a reason for buying the console they chose—and 33 per cent say it was a major reason.

The Implications: “More TV is watched live than any other way, and at the same time we’ve seen a major jump in the use of mobile devices for TV viewing,” said Peter Fondulas, one of the study authors. “One might think that would create a strong market for live TV on tablets and phones, but that hasn’t been the case. Mobile viewing is still highly situational, and the scenarios that make mobile viewing convenient don’t necessarily align with linear TV schedules.”

“One of the most important trends we’re seeing is the growth of TV sets connected to the Internet,” said Jon Giegengack, co-author of the study. “For most TV consumers, the big screen is still the main, if not the only, way to watch. Inexpensive and easy-to to use peripherals, and especially Smart TVs with a built in connection, remove one of the last logistical barriers between mainstream consumers and online TV sources.”

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