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CRE-TV-Consumption-by-Device-June2013The Council for Research Excellence has taken a look at mobile video viewing via a large survey of Americans aged 15-64 who have broadband internet access at home and watch at least 5 hours of TV per week. The study divides the respondent sample into 3 groups: those without mobile devices; those with them, but who do not watch TV on their devices; and those who own mobiles and watch TV on them. Among the findings of the study [pdf], just 2% of all TV hours logged were on tablets (1%) or smartphones (1%).

Examining how TV hours were divvied up (based on a 7-day journaling of TV viewing occasions by device), the researchers show that TV remains the primary device for watching, well, TV. At 89% of total hours, the TV stood tall above the computer (8%) and mobile devices (2%). In fact, even when limiting the analysis to the mobile TV viewing group, TV was dominant with 84% of logged hours, compared to 9% on a computer, 4% on a tablet, and 3% on a smartphone.

The fractional amount of time devoted to TV viewing on smartphones tallies with recent research from Experian, which found that just 2.3% of smartphone owners watch video on their devices on a typical day, and those viewers watch for only about 5 minutes per day. Nielsen reports have also consistently shown that consumers (even youth) watch far more video on a traditional TV set than on a mobile device.

Still, monthly minutes spent watching video on smartphones is increasing, according to the Council for Research Excellence study, citing Nielsen data showing those numbers to have increased by more than 70% year-over-year in Q1. What’s more, mobile TV viewers represent an attractive market segment. They:

  • Tend to be younger, with an average age of 35 (note that the sample base was aged 15-64);
  • Have a higher household income than those without mobile devices;
  • Tend to be more employed professionals; and
  • Have more graduate and professional degrees.

These mobile TV viewers also tend to have an “ethnic skew,” more likely than average to be Asian-American, African-American and English-dominant Hispanic.

Interestingly, 14% of mobile TV viewers have no pay TV service at home. This segment tends to be younger (under 35), have a lower household income, live by themselves, rent their primary residence, and skew Asian-American.

Presumably, these viewers watch mobile TV out of necessity, but for most mobile TV viewers, convenience appears to be the primary driver. Asked why they chose to watch a program on a device instead of a TV set, a leading 49% said their top reason was that it was more convenient on the device they used. Next up, 13% wanted to watch multiple episodes. Just 5% wanted to avoid ads. (It’s worth noting that these respondents could have been referring to program viewing on laptops or computers, so it’s not entirely accurate to attribute these answers solely to mobile viewing.)

Slightly fewer than 1 in 10 respondents said that their top reason for watching TV programming on a device other than a TV was for multitasking reasons.

About the Data: The study, “TV Untethered,” was launched in November 2012 to understand if and how mobile media devices ”“ tablets, mobile phones and laptops ”“ impact overall television viewing behavior. It encompassed nearly 6,000 participants and more than 393,000 TV viewing occasions, and included a quantitative phase, exploring video-user demographics, as well as a qualitative phase exploring users’ motivations and behaviors via in-home interviews in three markets ”“ Atlanta, Phoenix and Kansas City.

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