Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 31-08-2011

In yet more evidence of the increasingly crucial role tablets are playing in TV, as many as half of the device owners are viewing not only feature-length movies on their device, but also TV shows.

This is the stand out finding of new research from In-Stat which will inevitably cause a lot of introspection for content owners and service providers alike as it cements the place of tablets, in particular the iPad, in the connected TV ecosystem. Indeed, the analyst calculates that nearly 60% of smartphone/tablet owners will also be viewing over the top (OTT) video at home. It also expects frequent mobile video users will more than triple over the next five years with 86% of smartphone/tablet users likely to view video on their mobile devices.

Yet even though the analyst says that the increase in access has made content more ubiquitous than ever, availability is only a part of the story. It argues that what is equally important is how, and on what devices, consumers are accessing this content, and the increasing role of mobile devices for video consumption.

Just as tablet and smartphones are becoming vital new screens for video consumption, they are also functioning as personal interaction devices for video-centric social networking and applications. In-Stat estimates that nearly 50% of 18-24-year-old smartphone/tablet owners frequently social networks about TV programmes currently being viewed.

“Tablets, in particular, have become a primary video device, both inside and outside the home,” says Keith Nissen, research director. “By 2015, our research projects that 65% of the US population will own a smartphone and/or tablet. As these devices become a centre-point for video engagement and consumption, content providers, device manufacturers, and operators need to support a multi-screen usage model that reflects social interaction, screen interaction, personalisation, and mobility.”