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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 17, 2013

No Demand for Interactive TV, Lots of Demand for Portable TV?

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

A new study by NPD DisplaySearch suggests that there is still very little interest in “interactive TV” but lots of interest in watching TV content on smartphones and tablets.

The study also confirms that multitasking is nearly universal. Some 88 percent of tablet owners and 82 percent of smartphone owners in 15 countries surveyed use their devices at least some of the time while they watch TV, according to NPD DisplaySearch, which shows the high interest in multitasking.

In addition to multitasking, 85 percent of tablet owners and 65 percent of smartphone owners view online video content on their mobile devices instead of on their TVs at least some of the time.

Some might argue that people really do not care much about interacting with TV content, but are very interested in watching content where they want, when they want.

To the extent there is interest in augmenting the TV viewing experience, it seems to be fulfilled by the Internet and Internet apps. In other words, the Internet has become the default form of “interactivity.”

“The rise in connected mobile devices has changed the way consumers view TV and online content,” says Riddhi Patel, research director at NPD DisplaySearch. “For many people around the world, multitasking with apps on smartphones and tablets while watching TV has forever changed the traditional TV-focused viewing experience.”

E-mail, Web browsing, texting, Facebook (News - Alert) and weather were among the top applications people engage with while watching TV, the NPD study suggests.

To the extent that users want to watch video entertainment available online, as opposed to using other apps, they also seem to prefer their smaller screens.

Of the people who used mobile devices to view online content, most said that they like the ability to watch from anywhere and do not have to compete with others for control of the TV remote.

About 15 percent of tablet owners never watch online content on their mobile devices, and the main reasons cited are that the screens are too small and that the sound quality is not as good as on TV.

Some 35 percent of smartphone owners never use their smartphones to view online content, and this is because of their smaller screen sizes, difficulty holding them for long periods, and poor sound quality, the report suggests.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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