Mobile Replaces Television as Consumers’ First Screen



At MIPTV’s MIPFormats conference in Cannes this weekend, Eric Scherer, director of future media at France Télévisions, took center stage and crowned mobile as the new first screen.

“The TV industry will have to work on a mobile-first strategy,” he said, “because mobile is now the first screen, and it’s taking time away from the TV.”

Digital Video and the Connected Consumer,” a new research report from Accenture, supports that point of view, finding television is the only product category to see uniform, double-digit usage declines worldwide among viewers of nearly all ages—rapidly being replaced by smartphones, laptops, desktops and tablets.

Watching video on laptops chart

“We are seeing a definitive pendulum shift away from traditional TV viewing,” said Gavin Mann, Accenture’s global broadcast industry lead. “TV shows and movies are now a viewing staple on mobile devices of all shapes and sizes, thanks to improved streaming and longer battery life. The second-screen viewing experience is where the content creators, broadcasters and programmers will succeed or fail.”

Weekly OTT viewing chart

The shift is precipitated by several key factors including “a new syntax, a new grammar, a new vocabulary” for news generated by social media such as Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope, said Scherer. “The young people will not come back to the TV screen—at least the major TV screen that we knew for the last 40 years.”

Facebook, YouTube and the explosion of multichannel networks like Maker Studios (acquired by Disney last year) are the key reason for the transition. Facebook has said that it is currently averaging 3 billion video views a day.

But as the volume of available video on digital platforms grows exponentially, concern about quality does as well. Accenture notes, “89 percent of consumers watch long-form video on connected devices, but many report issues with their viewing experience.”

Ad interruptions chart

The report continues: “The primary complaint among more than half (51 percent) of respondents watching online video was poor Internet service. They complained about too much advertising placement (42 percent); buffering, or the time it takes for video to start playing (33 percent); and loss of sound or distortions during play (32 percent).”

As consumers have an overabundance of devices and digital content, startups and new entrants must deliver value-add to win them away. “Consumers prefer established brands, and broadcasters need to capitalize on this while the iron is hot by aggressively investing in multi-device platforms and securing partnerships that leverage their footprint into the mobile space,” said Mann. “A simple repackaging of the same programming available anywhere may not do it. It needs to be unique and special.”

Long-form video access chart

Two items that qualify as unique and special:

  • An emergent trend of “immersion” TV viewing with 4K-resolution now available on Netflix and Amazon as well as from GoPro’s wearable cameras
  • Virtual reality headsets, while still nascent and clumsy, are being pursued by Samsung, Google and Sony

One final note from Scherer on the implications that come with the shift to digital: “Trust is the next killer app when you talk about data. You better have a good relationship with your end users. Trust and transparency are considered as new services.”

Below, more from Scherer’s MIP Formats remarks, as covered by the official MIP Twitter feed:

How the gusher of content is creating a “ketchup moment” and challenge:

On TV disruption by Snapchat:

On YouTube:

On consumer privacy and data:

On virtual reality:

On kids and millennials:

On mobile overtaking TV as the first screen:

On Facebook vs. YouTube for video:

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