According to Nielsen, digital video viewing is up, but less and less of it is taking place on the TV screen. In fact, TV use is down, with viewers on average watching TV for 10 minutes less each day than they did one year ago. For comparison, time spent on smartphones is up 20 minutes since last year, and almost 40 since 2012.
Oddly enough, as time spent in front of the tube declines, cable bills have been on the rise. For many consumers it’s getting hard to justify paying more and more for a service that they’re using less and less, especially when that service usually only functions on traditional television sets and not on the smaller screens of phones and tablets where viewers and spending more time. Web-based services like Netflix, Hulu, Rabbit TV, and Amazon Instant Video are making gains at cable’s expense, because they exist on the platforms where users are spending more time. And with the addition of affordable equipment, content from those services can even be watched on the larger TV screen.
The writing is on the wall for the cable companies, some of which have launched “TV Anywhere” apps in an effort to keep would-be cord cutters subscribed. The way we watch television has changed, and no longer depends on the device of the same name. Any cable company that wants to survive in this new environment will need to find a way to efficiently deliver content not to the large TV in the living room, but to the small TV in most Americans’ pockets, otherwise known as a smartphone. They must also be willing to do this at a reasonable price.