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Viacom: Tablet Owners Love Their Devices, Prefer Them for TV Viewing

Viacom, parent of such younger-skewing properties as MTV and Comedy Central, are certainly invested in knowing who’s watching what, and where. The company has issued a report revealing that tablet devices are the leading second-screen alternative to television for viewing full-length episodes of TV shows. The report details some insights about consumer behavior and attitudes around the tablet user-experience as well, which are surprisingly emotional.

The “Tapping Into Tabletomics” survey tapped 2,500 tablet users in New York and Los Angeles, aged 8 to 54, with both qualitative and quantitative interviews. Viacom found that in just a few years of existence, tablets have risen to second-screen prominence for full-length TV (FLTV) show viewing ahead of computers. Out of total time spent watching FLTV shows, 15% of viewing occurs on tablets. As Stu Schneiderman, senior director of Viacom Media Networks Digital Research told Multichannel News, "It's really increasing their overall consumption of TV.” He went on to describe a “halo effect” to Mobile Marketer. “Consumers have a special relationship with their tablets [that] we think that can have a ripple effect for the brands that advertise on these devices.” Also true, tablets can drive consumers through the “purchase funnel” in a way that television cannot, and “We think that ads on the tablet should be designed to do that.”

Top Genres
The top genres viewed on tablets are comedy and music—good news for the parent company of MTV and Comedy Central. Conversely, viewers turn on the tube for reality television, drama, science fiction and sports.

MSO app users, Netflixers, Apple TV owners, AirPlay users and Whispersync users are all aggressive tablet users. These services lead to significantly higher levels of FLTV show watching on tablets. Among tablet owners who subscribe to a cable company that offers streaming apps, about half report downloading the app, and spend 20% more time on their tablet than non-MSO app users.

The Dual-Screen Experience
While watching television, many respondents use tablets to multitask or as a complementary experience via free apps like MTV's WatchWith and VH1's Co-Star, designed as add-ons, rather than distractions, to the television screen.

"Our audiences are some of the most deeply engaged and active across social platforms," said Colleen Fahey Rush, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, Viacom Media Networks. "Co-viewing apps create more meaningful ways to reach them and represent an entirely new level of engagement for fans of our content."

Still, television continues to provide the best experience. When asked about everything from sound/picture quality to watching current episodes to ease-of-use, the TV experience won on every dimension. One participant said: "If I'm looking forward to watching a sporting event or going to watch my favorite TV show, I still watch them on TV because it's just not the same. The iPad is too small to watch something like that."

The Emotional Tablet User
The average tablet user spends two hours and 24 minutes on a tablet per day, and 85% of that time for personal reasons versus business. That average user is between 18 and 24, and has an emotional connection to the table that he or she doesn’t have to the TV or radio. About half those surveyed claimed their tablets make them feel “happier and more relaxed,” and 40% believe “my tablet brings out the best in me.” "The iPad is my form of entertainment, relaxation, fun, and opportunity to get information. It's my personal space, in a sense," replied one enthusiastic user.

Viacom divided the users into “power trippers” who use tablets for everything, the “cool & efficient” users who view tablets for utility, the “happy-go-lucky” users who use them for entertainment, and the “proceeding with caution” type who is less tech savvy and enamored.

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