TV and the Mobile Companion App Advantage

TV and the Mobile Companion App Advantage

Companion apps are emerging as the perfect union of mobile devices and television. Back in the day, couch potatoes couldn’t put down their remote controls. Now, TV viewers are still clinging to their remotes, but a second category of equally addictive devices has joined them on the couch – mobile phones and tablets. No surprise given Gartner projected a double digit growth in tablet sales with the worldwide tablet market forecasted to grow 38.6 percent in 2014.

Armed with their mobile devices, people are watching TV differently. We are witnessing a new era of content on-demand that goes with the DVR revolution. Yes, people are still recording shows and watching them at their discretion, fast-forwarding through the commercials. But they are also watching their mobile screens at the same time as their TV screens, viewing related or unrelated content. They are using mobile apps, browsing the Internet, social networking, and texting with family/friends all while watching TV.

Clearly, mobile presents new opportunities to networks and other content providers to connect with TV viewers and form a community around their brands. So how are mobile companion apps impacting ratings? Quite nicely, according to NM Incite. As social chatter about a show increases, the ratings for that show increase in direct proportion – about a one-percent increase in ratings for a 14-percent increase in social chatter.

And media brands are also evolving to deliver original content on mobile or digital series that can only be seen online or from within applications. From Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to Orange is the New Black, Americans are watching more and more original digital video. A recent study out this month from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that 22% of American adults watch original digital video each month, bringing the total to 52 million a month. That’s a 15% increase from last year’s IAB/Gfk study and indicates that TV brands need to have a complementary digital play for their future.

The report also found that 46% of people viewed content on smartphones, 41% viewed it on tablets, and 48% also use connected TVs to watch original digital video. These numbers are nearly double the 2013 numbers levels, a year in which time spent using digital media overtook time spent watching TV for the first time in history. Clearly all these numbers are pointing to one thing: a massive disruptive shift in viewing habits for consumers.

Bottom line for media brands, interactive digital experiences are now an important factor in TV viewership. And during the course of a TV season, the social and digital buzz has a significant influence on a show’s ratings. To optimize ratings and revenues, mobile companion apps need be just as good as the TV programs they accompany. And that makes it imperative for content providers to understand the intersection of mobile and media – or work with a partner that does. After all, a great app may not save a lousy show, but a lousy app can prevent a great show from even better ratings. And a really lousy app can tarnish a brand so badly that previously loyal viewers change the channel completely.


Image courtesy of Paul Larkin for Unsplash.


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