By Emily Steel in New York
Television viewers are trading the small screen for the tiny screen, with a growing proportion of smartphone owners watching full-length television programmes on mobile devices.
New research shows a surge in people watching not just short clips but entire television episodes and films on tablets and smartphones. While 38 per cent of smartphone owners regularly watch videos on their device, about a tenth now watch full-length television programmes, according to Magid Advisors, a consulting group whose clients include large media and technology companies.
“Mobile is the connected television that we all carry in our pockets,” said Amir Ashkenazi, chief executive of Adap.tv, the digital video advertising company that AOL said it would acquire for $405m last week.
The growth in mobile-video viewing has been triggered by the rapid adoption of smartphones with larger screens as well as faster internet connectivity both through mobile operators and WiFi networks. This has resulted in people using phones to catch up on television programmes while travelling on public transport or turning to mobile devices when the household television and computer is otherwise occupied.
“You have this device that is really widely distributed, and there is a lot of content available through subscriptions and free services,” said Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors. “[Watching television programmes on smartphones] is not the dominant behaviour right now, more people are watching on TVs and computers, but the smartphone is growing.”
The shift has huge implications for media and advertising businesses. Research shows that the upswing in digital video use is adding to the amount of time spent watching programmes, rather than eating into how much television content is being consumed. People are spending about 25 minutes a day watching full-length television episodes on digital devices, compared to about five hours on television sets, according to Magid.
“More TV content – but on other devices,” Mr Vorhaus said.
Television networks are engaged in fierce negotiations with cable companies and companies such as Netflix and Amazon to secure more revenues for the rights to their stream their programming.
“Streaming continues to be a terrific growth driver for us,” Les Moonves, chief executive of CBS, said during a recent conference call. “As you can imagine, there are lots of players out there looking to get into the space, and we’re constantly having discussions with them about further monetising our content.”
Media companies are also trying to find new ways to measure how programmes are being viewed in order to determine their advertising value.
Advertisers are clamouring to buy digital video ads . While the broader mobile ad market has posed challenges, mobile video ads offer an easy solution. Advertisers are transferring the commercials they already have crafted for television on to the mobile video screen.
“Consumers will watch endless amounts of videos on their phones,” said Angela Steele, chief executive of Ansible, a mobile advertising agency owned by Interpublic. “And we see great results of mobile video ads, regardless of how much consumers enjoy or dislike the experience.”
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