How your audience is using their mobile device

In an article on how-to develop apps for film and television I made it clear that the context or situation of app usage can have a strong influence on how users interact with it. If you take a look at the Nielson report here you can see the trends. It basically comes down to this:

  • Tablets70% use them while watching television, 57% while in bed
  • e-readers – 35% use them while watching television, 61% while in bed
  • Smart phones68% use them while watching television, 51% while in bed

Obviously tablets and smart phones are heaviliy integrated into people’s lives while e-readers are mostly about catching up on a book before bed.

This might seem like a strong support for the “second screen” movement that is currently sweeping the app world. This is the idea that you can provide a second screen through a mobile device that will engage users in a creative property beyond the television screen they are already watching. To really understand if this is real or hype you need to look at another study by Nielson. Although this study has daily usage of mobile devices in front of a television at around 40% (quite a bit lower than the previous study). Now, what are they doing with that second screen?

  • 60% – Checking their email
  • 46% – Surfing the web for content unrelated to the television program
  • 30% – Looking up anything related to the TV program
  • 19% – Looking up something they saw on an advertisement on the TV program

So the majority of the time a mobile user is attending to other aspects of their life that have nothing to do with the television program they are watching. Why this is happening is still unknown. It may be that time starved individuals are multi-tasking all the time. It may be that the apps that go with those television programs haven’t met their expectations yet. No matter what the reason it is an important consideration before you invest in app development for a creative property.