There have been several studies on the growth and impact of mobile devices that have come out in the last few weeks.
Nielsen released it's State of the Media: U.S. Digital Consumer Report covering the last half of 2011, Among the basic findings: 274 million Americans have Internet Access, almost two-thirds of mobile phone time is spent on apps, there are more laptops than desktop computers in US TV households, and 42% of tablet owners use them daily while watching TV. The last is one consequence of the increasing media options that people have; the report indicates that 44% of cell subscribers have a smartphone, 41% of TV homes have a DVR, 67% have HDTV, and that almost as many people watched video on a computer (165.9 million) as visited social networks or blogs (169.6 million).
The report also suggested that mobile use is impacting traditional media behaviors. Online video viewing (in terms of time) grew by 7%, while TV viewing in the home increased slightly (0.9%). Highest levels of online viewing were among younger people, and minorities. When using mobile devices while watching TV, the most frequently given uses were for checking email (57%), checking social media sites (44%), using downloaded apps (45%), general web surfing (44%). Seeking for information related to what they were watching was a less frequent use - 29% reported looking for info related to the TV program, 19% for information related to an ad, and 16% looked up coupons or deals related to ads. The study suggested that among mobile device users, tablets had a greater impact than smartphones in a variety of marketing applications. As for higher quality video streaming, 33% of consumers reported streaming a movie or TV show through a subscription services (Netflix, Hulu+), and women were likely to watch more often (64% of all the time spent watching streamed content). Interestingly, Nielsen found that Hispanics were much more likely to use Netflix for their streamed viewing, while Asians used Hulu+ more often. In addition to subscription services, the report looked at Video-on-Demand use - 18% of consumers reported they had paid for a rental download, and 14% had paid for a download to own.
An earlier Nielsen Cross-Platform Report had also provided some insights into the evolving media environment. They reported that three-quarters of US TV households currently subscribe to broadband internet access. The continued expansion of broadband access is one factor leading to the growing in watching video over the internet - a 21.7% gain in the number of users, and an almost 80% gain in time spent viewing, from 2008 to 2011. The study showed several ongoing shifts in viewer behavior last year, with cable subscriptions down (-4.1%), satellite up (+2.1%), and telco video subscriptions booming (+21.1%). The number of people watching timeshifted TV increased 65.9% from 2008-2011, as did the time spent viewing timeshifted TV (66.1%). Even though there was a slight increase in traditional TV viewing, there was much greater growth in more active-viewing, or VOD, behaviors - timeshifted viewing, VOD and streaming use, watching TV on mobile and other personal media players, and online video use. The greater growth in these areas suggests the beginning of a more fundamental shift in TV audience behaviors, to watching what they want, when they want, and where they want, rather than selecting from among the viewing options offered at that time. This might partially explain the much higher levels of online and mobile video viewing among minorities - those seeking minority-focused programming have limited options among traditional TV programming choices.
And it looks like tablet's impact is likely to be felt sooner, and with a broader impact. A new Forrester report projects that by 2016, more than one in three adults in the U.S. will have a tablet. The 112 million adult users they now project for 2016 is not just slightly up, it's an jump of 37% from previous estimates. Forrester predicts that this year's expected annual tablet sales of 38 million units will grow to over 60 million units sold in 2016. In looking at the factors driving adoption, while price was important, knowing (and valuing) what you can do with tablets is most important - one reason why Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble's tablet offerings have succeeded while "pure hardware plays" have failed.
One study of the impact of mobile devices on TV viewing behavior by Chadwick Martin Bailey found that 63% of respondents who had watched TV content on a tablet device had done so even when a big-screen TV with access to the same content was available nearby. This suggests that use of tablets for TV viewing is not seen as the last alternative, but is increasingly being seen as a close substitute to watching on the traditional TV set-up. The study also found that more than half (54%) of their total sample had explored various OTT (Over-The-Top) alternatives to pay TV. With OTT alternatives (like Netflix, AppleTV, Hulu+, Amazon, GooglePlay) available, 15% of the total sample said that they were likely going to reduce their pay-TV spending within the next year.
“These findings show every part of the consumer TV and movie watching experience is up for grabs,” says Jon Giegengack, director at Chadwick Martin Bailey. “In the digital music revolution, the primary shift was in how music was bought and stored. When it comes to TV and movies, everything has the potential to change: whom consumers buy from; how much they pay (if they pay at all); and the range of times and places offering viewing opportunities.”
Another report by Nielsen suggests that families with tablets often allow their children to use tablets (70%). Parents reported that the most common use of tablets by their kids was playing games (77%), followed by educational use (57%). Keeping kids entertained at certain times was also common - parents often used tablets to keep kids entertained while traveling (55%), or at a restaurant or other event (41%). Tablets were also frequently used (43%) to let children watch TV shows or movies. Interestingly, only 15% of parents said that their children used tablets to communicate with family or friends.
ComScore's Digital Omnivores study also looked at the impact of mobile and connected devices on media consumption habits in the U.S. That report indicated that half of the total U.S. mobile population are using them for mobile media applications. Among the tablet owners they surveyed, 58% reported using tablets for getting news or information, with a quarter of tablet users doing so on a daily basis.
Mobile devices are also used for other types of media content - while 51% reported reading print magazines, 30% reported reading magazines through computers, 16% via tablets, and 13% on mobile phones. As for streaming music, almost half reported doing so on their desktops or laptops, and about a quarter streaming music on mobile phones (23%) and tablets (24%). The study also reported that tablets were used for playing games (~67%), listening to downloaded music (62%) and reading eBooks (56%). Tablets were also widely used to watch both short videos (85% at least monthly, 19% daily), watching on-demand video or TV episodes (49% monthly, 16% daily), movies (48% monthly, 17% daily), and live broadcast TV programs (48% monthly, 16% daily).
Nielsen is also tracking the exploding blogosphere for advertisers and market researchers. At the end of 2011, they were tracking more than 181 million active blogs around the world, up from 38 million in 2006. While many blogs are published by companies, their tracking pool includes almost 9 million individuals blogging on major blogging websites, and another 12 million who blog through their social networks. They report that most bloggers are women, half are in the 18-34 age group, and more than two-thirds have at least some college education. More than half of bloggers are parents (mostly moms). Their research also suggests that bloggers are more active participants in social media generally.
The common theme running through these reports is that we're adopting mobile, connected, devices at an increasing rate, and using them not only for basic communication, but for consumption of all types of digital media content. In addition, that consumers are also using devices and consuming media in new ways - and these new uses are not only impacting traditional media, but enabling consumers to be more active and involved in their media consumption behaviors. While many traditional media may see this initially as a threat, there is also significant opportunities for traditional media to adapt to, and take advantage, of the new opportunities mobile provides.
Sources - State of the Media: U.S. Digital Consumer Report
The Cross-Platform Report
Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U. S. Digital Media Consumption Habits, ComScore (available through ComScore website
2012 Mobile Future in Focus, ComScore (available through ComScore website
Tablet Demand Explodes, Creates Global Phenomenon
, Online Media Daily
Study: 63% Who Watch Video on Tablet Did So With TV available
, HomeMedia Magazine
American Families See Tablets as Playmate, Teacher, and Babysitter
Buzz in the Blogosphere: Millions More Bloggers and Blog Readers