TV and video meet the tablet

TV and video meet the tablet

Jan Olin
Jan Olin

Jan Olin, European managing director at MobiTV, discusses the impact of tablets on mobile TV and video viewing and how the emergence of these devices has increased pressure on the wireless, broadcasting and entertainment industries to deliver a converged service.

Sales of tablets are booming. Apple sold one million iPads in the first month of its launch and Gartner estimates that sales of tablet devices will reach 208 million by 2014. The influx of new devices with ‘video capabilities’ and screen sizes of up to 11 inches has dynamically altered the user experience of mobile TV and video, and has also had a dramatic impact on the multi-screen strategies of broadcasters and other service providers.

The last 12 months has seen an upsurge in mobile TV and video usage driven by live events, such as the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the World Cup in South Africa. The World Cup in particular proved to be a watershed for mobile TV viewing, with ESPN delivering live and in-studio programming across all platforms, with more than 100 million minutes of mobile coverage.


World Cup winner

Further investigation into the viewing trends of consumers during the World Cup revealed a correlation between screen size and user engagement. Consumers spent more time watching content on devices with larger screen sizes and higher resolution, with subscribers spending up to 120 minutes consuming content on a phone with a five inch screen.

The introduction of a tablet device with a bigger surface area, and touchscreen capabilities, has suddenly made mobile TV and video a more attractive prospect for both service providers and consumers.

A tablet is a connected device that can support a wide range of applications, everything from web browsing and e-reading, to streaming music and video. The portability, size and processing power of the tablet ensure that it provides the end user with a high quality video experience.

Analysis of viewing trends has revealed that user engagement increases significantly if content is being watched on a tablet device. This has been particularly true in the case of dedicated sports applications that provide a combination of live streaming and on-demand services.

These applications have proved to be extremely successful in the US market. Sports fans have been able to access live NFL and NBA matches, watch highlights and use a range of interactive services that allow them to keep up to date with league tables and player statistics. The introduction of the tablet has changed audience behaviour and the length of viewing sessions of the applications doubled to that of users watching the same content on an iPhone.


iPad junkies

According to research conducted by Nielsen in October 2010, 25% of iPad users are spending up to an hour on a weekday to watch TV content, which represents a significant step forward in the place-shifting of traditional TV. Nielsen also revealed that the tablet is a shared device and up to 46% of users are happy to allow others to use their tablets, which would also suggest that the format lends itself to a shared viewing experience.

With so many live streaming and video options now available, consumers want to experience content in a format that suits their situation, whenever and wherever they are, whether that is on a mobile phone, laptop or the television at home. Unsurprisingly, content providers are keen to extend their programming to all screens in order to meet this demand.

The TV and video environment is changing rapidly following the emergence of online video platforms, such as Netflix, which could pose serious competition to the traditional terrestrial and cable TV providers. The tablet can act as the cornerstone to this new confluence of media, providing subscribers with a companion device that will complement, and augment a cross platform media experience.


Viewer presence awareness

Imagine a scenario where the end user is able to pause a ‘live’ television show that they have been watching on the plasma screen in the living room, and then resume watching it on their tablet, or phone. This process can be carried out in reverse with the viewer coming into the house after watching TV on their mobile device while they were on the train home from work, and picking up where they left off on the comfort of their own sofa.

The broadcasters who stand to gain are those that can offer subscribers ‘true’ convergence in the form of a TV and video experience that can be accessed across multiple platforms. ‘True’ convergence simply means the consumer is in control of the content they purchase, and can decide where, when and on what device they consume it.

The tablet can provide the end user with a more TV-like video experience, a range of interactive features because of the device’s touch screen capabilities, and the opportunity for a shared viewing experience. Mobile operators, broadcasters and content providers now have an opportunity to provide a viewing experience that will be personalised and focused on the user.

MobiTV is a technology company with an end to end managed service called MobiTV Accelerated Media Platform. This platform enables the delivery of media to any screen and includes several patented components.

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