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As Tablet Ownership Increases, Will Pay TV Audiences Follow?

Consumers not yet sold on “TV anywhere”

Most pay TV subscribers in North America have no concrete cord-cutting plans, at least for now, according to a February 2013 study by video discovery platform DigitalSmiths. Just 4% planned to cut cable or satellite service in 2013, and a relatively minor 1.3% planned to abandon pay TV altogether for an online app or rental service. That being said, a sizeable 28.1% said their plans were still up in the air.

Customers reported being more satisfied than not with their TV packages. According to the study, over half were “satisfied” and about one-quarter were “very satisfied.” Still, a solid one out of five respondents reported that they were “unsatisfied.” The biggest cause of dissatisfaction: rising fees.

But the study also called attention to the extent that TV providers are contending more and more with the additional screens that are popping up in households. In Q1 2013, 33.4% of respondents said their household owned a tablet, up from 28.6% in the previous quarter.

Can cable and satellite providers hold customers’ interest on these new devices and offer a service that makes pay TV subscriptions more valuable? The jury is still out.

Digitalsmiths found that 26% of respondents with tablets had downloaded their service provider’s tablet app. But even of those who had downloaded the app, only 18% said they’d used it, suggesting that consumers still have not integrated it into their routines. However, some who have begun using the app are clearly addicted; 6% of respondents said they used their pay TV app every day.

Interestingly, TV networks seem to have done a more effective job in moving its viewers over to tablets: 31.7% of tablet owners said they had downloaded a network TV tablet app. Viewers seem to get more use out of network TV apps as well: Just 8% of those who had downloaded one never used it, while 40% used one twice a week, and 22% used one daily.

This heavier use of network TV apps may also reflect cord-cutting. Pay TV subscribers likely own a TV, and so already have a large screen where they can watch programming. Many network TV apps, on the other hand, are free, no subscription required.

According to the study, ABC is the network with the most popular tablet app: 11.9% of those with a network TV app said they had downloaded it. Other networks with popular tablet apps include FOX, ESPN and CBS, the study found.


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