Most Mobile TV Viewing Occurs In Home

A new study from the Council For Research Excellence Study details the affects of mobile media devices on overall TV viewing behavior. Among them: 82% of tablet and 64% of smartphone  viewing occurs in the home.

The majority of mobile TV viewing occasions — 82% of tablet and 64% of smartphone — occurs in the home, according to a new study. And the primary driver for consumers watching video on mobile devices is convenience — not to avoid advertising.

The study, TV Untethered, was launched in November 2012 to understand if and how mobile media devices — tablets, mobile phones and laptops — affect 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.

The study was conducted by Boston-based market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey for the Council for Research Excellence (CRE).

A formal presentation of the findings, led by Laura Cowan, research director at LIN Media and co-chair of the CRE’s Media Consumption and Engagement Committee and Chris Neal, a VP at Chadwick Martin Bailey, is scheduled for the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Audience Measurement 8.0 conference, June 10-11.

Other findings from the study:

  • Drama led among program genres viewed on mobile devices (31% of tablet viewing occasions, 27% of smartphone occasions) and comedies (20% of tablet occasions, 24% of smartphone occasions).  By contrast, news leads among TV-set viewing; 31% of TV-set viewing occasions were for news compared to 11% and 15% for tablets and smartphones, respectively.
    • Convenience and multi-episode “binging” drive mobile viewing, while ad avoidance is not a primary motivator.  Forty-nine percent of participants cited “more convenient” as their top reason for viewing video on a mobile device; 13% cited “watch multiple episodes”; only 5% cited “fewer ads.”
  • Content availability often drives device selection (e.g., certain programs or episodes may only be available to a consumer via mobile device).
  • Participants in multi-person households confirmed that mobile devices let people watch different shows at the same time (e.g., one person watching the television, another watching separate programming on a tablet).
  • Mobile TV viewers are more focused than TV set viewers (e.g., less unrelated multi-tasking, more program-related second screen activity).

“While mobile-video consumption remains a small minority of total television consumption, nearly 41 million Americans today are watching video on mobile devices, according to Nielsen — and that is impacting overall TV consumption,” Cowan said. “Media companies need to understand not only the methodologies for measuring video consumption on mobile devices, but also the impact of mobile viewing on television consumption overall – information which is crucial for planning relative to content development and advertising. We believe this study has helped move us closer toward that understanding.”


“Today’s mobile devices are having a screen multiplier effect within households,” Neal added, “leading to an increase in overall TV consumption and creating more opportunities for individuals to watch exactly what they want, whenever they want, at a location of their choosing. They are not replacing television sets, but they are impacting TV viewing habits in a way that is too fundamental for anyone in the media and advertising industries to ignore.”

The CRE will compare results of the measurement used in this study to the various current industry methodologies employed to collect these data, in order to develop a new set of best practices.

The full report on the TV Untethered study findings can be found (under “New Research”) on the Media Consumption & Engagement Committee page at the CRE website.

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