Are tablets killing television?

Posted on 29th Nov 2011 by Katy Cowan in Blog

I've been saying for quite some time that I want to get rid of my television. The flashing box in the corner isn't exactly a healthy or positive addition to our household. As far as I'm concerned, it just churns out brainwashing, boring content that encourages me to cement myself to the sofa and slob.

There are far better things I could be doing with my time. Coupled with the fact that I'm somewhat resentful of having to pay for the BBC's compulsory TV licence and an expensive Sky subscription, I've been turning lately instead to on-demand, 'watch again' TV on my iPad. And it seems I'm not alone.

A new survey by mobile network Orange here in the UK has revealed that tablet computers are cannibalising TV usage. Apparently, 35 per cent of UK tablet users are watching on-demand content, 40 per cent are streaming content and 39 per cent are 'watching TV' on their tablet.

It's the first time Orange has included tablet usage in its annual Orange Exposure report, as they usually just look at smartphones. Speaking of smartphones, they were found to complement TV consumption rather than take people away from TV. I'm assuming that's because people these days love to chat with friends on social media while watching the box.

It's certainly interesting to see that tablets are having more of an impact on television. I myself watch far less TV these days and prefer to enjoy the odd BBC iPlayer offering. And I'm happy to pay my TV licence for that... Although you don't have to - not if you're watching recorded stuff. I wonder how long that will last?

At the moment I'm catching up on Life's Too Short and Frozen Planet. But that's about it. That's all I watch. I'm not interested in Master Cook, Come Eat at My House & Judge Me On My Food or I'm a Z-List Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. I'd rather read a book.

But on those rare occasions I do fancy switching off, I reach for my iPad and enjoy a little light entertainment. To be honest, I think I watch more educational videos these days than TV. I love TED Talks and there's a huge range of training videos out there via things like but also digital agencies are doing their own videos now, so it's interesting to keep up with the industry.

I suppose the question here is - are we getting bored of TV? Are we moving away from huge, widescreen televisions and instead doing more with our lives? Is this part of a growing 'downsizing' trend where people are realising that 'stuff' doesn't make them happy? That experiences are far better at giving us satisfying lives?

Or is it partly to do with our busy lives? How we're demanding TV on the move because we have longer commutes?

Whatever the reasons, tablets are here to stay - despite what the critics initially said. Tablets are only going to become more dominant in our lives. I'm sure I'm not the only person thinking about ditching my ugly, black TV to make room for a nice plant or another armchair where books can be read or recorded TV shows can be watched on a tablet.

But more importantly, what about brands? How can they jump on the back of this growing tablet usage? How can they ensure they're still exposed to consumers, even just 12 months from now? What things could businesses be doing to follow the crowd and keep people talking about their products and services? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

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