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Netflix, Hulu Dominate Mobile TV Viewing

Majority of television content watched on tablets, smartphones happens at home, according to CRE study

The bulk of TV content watched on smartphones and tablets today is provided through Netflix and Hulu Plus — not networks or pay TV providers, according to a new study.

About 64% of TV shows viewed on smartphones and 54% on tablets were via Netflix, Hulu Plus or another online video-subscription service, according to a survey commissioned by the Council for Research Excellence, which is funded by Nielsen. By contrast, just 26% of TV programming on mobile devices was from a broadcast or cable net’s website or app.

The survey shows that networks have “the opportunity to promote their own content and capture that viewing instead of Netflix,” said Laura Cowan, research director of television station group LIN Media.

Meanwhile, cable and satellite providers’ apps accounted for 11% of TV shows on tablets and 10% on smartphones.

TV nets are starting to offer more content on mobile devices, but under the prevailing “TV Everywhere” model live programming and most on-demand episodes are available only to customers of participating pay TV providers. ABC, for example, debuted a test version of its Watch ABC app with a broader rollout set for July.

Today, watching TV shows on mobile devices remains relatively small. Among all TV viewers, only 2% of all TV hours logged were on mobile devices. About 40.9 million Americans today watch video on mobile devices, according to Nielsen.

The study found that the majority of mobile video viewing — 82% of tablet-based viewing and 64% of smartphone viewing — occurs inside the home.

Convenience is the top reason consumers watch TV programming on mobile devices: 49% of participants cited “more convenient” as their top reason for viewing video on a mobile device; 13% said the ability to “watch multiple episodes” drove their viewing; and only 5% cited “fewer ads.”

The study surveyed 5,886 consumers online and included a quantitative phase exploring video-user demographics, as well as a qualitative phase exploring users’ motivations and behaviors via in-home interviews in three markets (Atlanta, Phoenix and Kansas City). The CRE commissioned the study from Boston-based market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey.

Cowan said the CRE will compare results of the measurement used in the study to the various current industry methodologies  to develop a new set of best practices.

Members of CRE, created in 2005, include ABC, CBS, Comcast, Discovery, Google, Hulu, NBCUniversal, Time Warner Inc., Viacom, Walt Disney Co., GroupM, Omnicom and Starcom MediaVest Group.

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