Mobile devices surpass TV in viewership

The advantages of developing software for a device that stays pretty much glued to consumers 24 hours a day appear to be paying off. According to Yahoo!-owned mobile analytics firm Flurry, time spent on mobile devices has grown to 177 minutes per day on average, surpassing time spent with the TV, which stayed flat at 168 minutes per day.

Furthermore, time spent on mobile devices grew 9.3 percent from the first quarter to the third quarter of 2014, the firm's president and CEO, Simon Khalaf, said in a blog post.

"Most app developers didn't know back in 2008 that they would be building the next generation of TV channels," Khalaf said. "Many consumers installing apps also didn't know that they were tuning in to new TV channels."

The data was drawn from comScore and Flurry and includes all time spent with mobile devices, not just time spent watching video on those devices. Television data was drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2013 report on leisure and sport activities.

Of course, it's known that consumers often watch television with their mobile devices close at hand. The entire second-screen strategy was initially designed to meet the needs of couch-bound viewers. However, as Khalaf noted, the number of consumers who are using both devices at the same time wasn't measured. Still, he said, "we believe that there is plenty of overlap between the time spent on TV and that on mobile devices."

Mobile apps are driving the increase in time spent with devices; meanwhile, Khalaf said the time spent on mobile Web has remained flat. Data like that led one Wall Street Journal technology author to grouse that apps are killing the Web.

"Everything about apps feels like a win for users--they are faster and easier to use than what came before," wrote Christopher Mims. "But underneath all that convenience is something sinister: the end of the very openness that allowed Internet companies to grow into some of the most powerful or important companies of the 21st century."

He points out that centralized gatekeepers--think Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) App Store or Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Play--and "broken" app search engines are among the issues that mean apps can only exist within walled gardens where a few large aggregators get to set the rules. And as apps continue to explode in popularity, accessing the Web to find information will happen less and less, Mims posits.

That scenario isn't exactly ringing true, however. According to Flurry's data, users still love apps that reside outside the mainstream. "In the past nine months, time spent in the top 25 applications (ranked by time spent according to comScore) only grew by one percent," Khalaf wrote. "But time spent in the group of apps … below the top 25, grew a massive 21 percent in the same time period, as more and more applications made their way into the top app stores." Flurry compiled data about apps below the top 25.

So, will apps kill TV and the Web? For the moment, it's highly doubtful. Time spent with both technologies has remained flat, but innovation and disruption are still churning along, particularly with online video.

(Image source: Flurry)

For more:
- see this Flurry blog post
- see this WSJ.D story (sub. req.)

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