Flat Screen vs. Mobile Screen: App Use Catching Up With Television

Flurry Analytics has released a new study which shows some surprising numbers and really signifies the fate of standard televisions in this new digital and portable age. The writing may be on the wall, but its going to be almost certain that television will adapt rather than stand by. 

The firm studied the patterns of consumers and saw that they are spending an average of two hours per day, 127 minutes to be exact, using mobile apps. This is up 35 percent from the tracking the firm did last year, where it was 94 minutes per day. Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2010 and 2011 has shown that consumers in the U.S. have been watching an average of 168 minutes of television per day. Comparing the two its easy to see that mobile time is catching up, and someday may actually outpace, standard television watching time. 

This is big news for content producers, and it has many developers and networks making some long-term decisions. Content producers can win because the mobile space can take branding to a whole new level. Once a user has an app, it is almost as if they are subscribing to a traditional channel such as HBO. The app can be branded to bring the customer's favorite content 24/7, and the app itself can be easily updated with new features. Unlike HBO, many apps are free, with premium in-app purchases along the way, so the barrier for entry can be pretty low. 

Mobile TV has taken off big time, and someday could integrate into the numbers that Flurry Analytics is tracking. These days going to watch a show on an Apple iPad mini or Nexus 7 Table or Amazon Kindle HD is pretty commonplace. Queuing up a movie and settling in with a tablet has become the norm and a welcome diversion away from the big TV which may be occupied by someone else currently. The consortium of broadcasters that has formed the Dyle initiative is helping the cause as well, by branding portable devices that are compatible with OTA broadcast television. Even though these are separate devices, usually that need to be attached to a tablet, the software driving it is still an app, and apps are where people are watching more and more TV these days. 

For years social media and games have been the go-to entertainment options in the wide landscape of apps, but that may be changing. The Flurry study shows that while last year games took up 50 percent of mobile time, and social networking came out to about 30 percent, this year those amounts actually went down, with gaming coming in at 43 percent and social media tracking at 26 percent. Although apps are certainly a wide mix, mobile TV apps could be the next big thing to increase, if they have not already. With the content moving from television brands to portable apps, and the recent FCC mandate that cable system operators must offer network streaming from cable boxes to portable devices by 2014, the allure of mobile television could cut into apps and social media, but also pull people even more away from sitting down and watching traditional television. 

Although app usage rising can hardly be seen as surprising news, what is surprising is that it seems to be in a cycle with traditional television viewing. While compelling apps are pulling attention away from television, also in the cards may be that sitting down to watch TV could mean pulling out a tablet if current app trends continue.