Blog Post

Don’t call it mobile: most iPad TV viewing happens at home

Netflix, (s NFLX) Hulu Plus and TV Everywhere apps make it possible for iPad owners to watch TV, well, everywhere – but most of them prefer to sit on the couch, or curl up in bed with their tablet: That’s one of the key take-aways of the Council for Research Excellence’s new TV Untethered study (PDF), which looks at TV viewing on mobile phones and tablets.

The study, which will be presented at the Audience Measurement 8.0 conference in New York next week, reveals that 82 percent of TV viewing on tablets happens at home. Office and workplace viewing is a distant second with 14 percent, and commuting, travel and other on-the-go situations don’t really make a dent at all.

Usage looks a bit different on mobile phones, where the office (23 percent) and transit (12 percent) play a much bigger role. But even these devices see 64 percent of video usage at home, according to the survey. Unsurprisingly, 90 percent of all viewing on TV devices happens in the home.

The study has a few other interesting data points:

  • Mobile TV viewing is a still a small phenomenon. Even folks who do use their mobile devices to watch TV shows and movies only spend about seven percent of their TV time in front of the small screen.
  • Mobility and cord cutting go hand in hand: 14 percent of people who watch TV on their mobile devices don’t have a pay TV subscription.
  • Good news for Netflix: 54 percent of all tablet TV viewing happens through subscription services.

9 Responses to “Don’t call it mobile: most iPad TV viewing happens at home”

  1. I don’t even have a TV set (since 2008), but I watch a few shows regularly on Hulu, via my iPad. I always watch with my earbuds, but even so, I always do so at home, where it’s quiet and private, as opposed to a coffee shop or restaurant, where the noise, music and other distractions would interfere with my viewing experience. Given that, I can see why most people would watch at home.

  2. When did mobile ever mean outside of home? Mobile homes are less mobile than a tablet and we still call them mobile.

    The argument about small screens is a red herring. It is like saying why use facebook on my smartphone when the screen is bigger at the office or in my living room – meaningless.

    Immersive TV viewing is a function of several factors including screen size, distance from screen, and audio. Most cheap headphones provide better sound quality than thousands of dollars of audio gear hooked up to TV.

    And a 6 inch screen 6 inches away from your pillow is more immersive than watching on a 50″ TV from 4 feet away – and nobody watches a 50″ TV from less than 6 feet away.

    Having said that, the tablet used to watch TV at home is very much about mobile. From the bathroom, kitchen, garage, deck and bedroom this mobile viewing behaviour is not at all possible with my TV!

  3. xtoddrick

    I don’t get this at all. I much prefer my 46 inch television for watching TV and movies. I do have an iPad in the kitchen for TED Talks and catching up on missed NPR programs. The iPad is excellent for many things but too small to get immersed in a movie.

    • Brian S

      Amen. If I’m stuck in a waiting room, at an office, waiting for an airplane – fine, the iPad or iPhone work great for that. But when I’m sitting at home with several big screen TVs from which to choose? They day I choose to watch TV on those tiny little screens instead is the day I need to stop watching TV.

  4. Daryl

    Maybe the reason why most people watch “TV” on their iPads at home is because most iPads (and for that matter, most tablets) are wifi-only. And how can you say that “Mobility and cord cutting go hand in hand” when only 14 percent of people who watch TV on their mobile devices don’t have a pay TV subscription?

  5. I don’t know what iPad users do, but on my Nexus 7 using headphones I’ll watch something else off Netflix streaming if the wife is watching something I don’t want to watch. The only other time I use the N7 for video is on an airplane.

  6. Nicholas Paredes

    Yes, most of the viewing happens at home in the bedroom. Or, in the kitchen. Or, on the porch… The point is that the viewing is no longer centered around a permanent fixture in the home, but on the tablet that I carry everywhere I go. I haven’t owned a television since 1994.

    Mobile is about portability of services which are functionally equivalent and optimized for vastly different environments. Most shopping happens at home as well, but disregarding the transition between environments eliminates the opportunity at key decision points — Whole Foods or a standard grocery store?

    Home is about the only place where 30 to 120 minutes of time are easily managed. Conversations about mobility which describe the typical behavior miss the innovation that makes viewing anywhere possible. It took twenty years for me to be able to watch television on a tablet or laptop. My first Tablet PC was a dozen years ago.

  7. Sylvan

    My wife and I watch tv on our iPads while we wash dishes or do other chores in addition to what is mentioned above. BTW… we cut our cord back in 2008 and will never go back.