Tablet devices are full-length TV powerhouses

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 18-04-2012

Tablet devices have emerged as the leading second-screen alternative to television for viewing full-length episodes, according to a new study from Viacom. In just a few years, tablets have risen to second-screen prominence for full-length TV (FLTV) show viewing, ahead of computers.
Specifically, out of total time spent watching FLTV shows, 15% of viewing occurs on tablets. Top genres viewed on tablets include comedy and music – traditionally more the purview of computers. Reality TV meanwhile is the top genre viewed on television, followed by drama, science fiction and sports, suggesting a complementary relationship between the two.
The study also found, unsurprisingly, that MSO app users, Netflixers, Apple TV owners, AirPlay users and Whispersync users are very aggressive tablet users, driving the consumption trends.
For instance, among tablet owners who subscribe to a cable company that offers streaming apps, about half report downloading the app, and 22% of them watch FLTV. These MSO app users also spend 20% more time on their tablet than non-MSO app users.
Meanwhile, 24% of Airplay users watch FLTV shows on their tablets, while 19% of Netflix users do. More than one-third of both AirPlay (35%) and Whispersync (34%) users say they watch more TV on their tablets because of these apps.
While watching television, many respondents use tablets to multitask or as a complementary experience via apps like MTV's WatchWith and VH1's Co-Star, designed as add-ons, rather than distractions, to the television screen.
"Our audiences are some of the most deeply engaged and active across social platforms," said Colleen Fahey Rush, executive vice president and chief research officer at Viacom Media Networks. "Co-viewing apps create more meaningful ways to reach them and represent an entirely new level of engagement for fans of our content."
Despite the impressive tablet TV uptake, traditional living-room television continues to provide the best experience. When asked about everything from sound/picture quality to watching current episodes to ease-of-use, the TV experience won on every dimension. One participant said, "If I'm looking forward to watching a sporting event or going to watch my favorite TV show, I still watch them on TV because it's just not the same. The iPad is too small to watch something like that."