My Tablet, My TV: Video Use Way Up, But Ad Revs Demure

In our house, my iPad and Nexus 7 are essentially TVs now. Courtesy of Dish’s Anywhere apps, I can count on having access to both my DVR contents and the live broadcast on any of my subscribed set-top-box channels from anywhere in my house. When there is a breaking news story, the iPad is open to a news channel and propped on the desk alongside the PC screen. Why bother with foreground and background windows on the desktop display? This is also the place where I am most likely to lean back and view the videos I have saved for later during a workday I didn't want interrupted by random acts of cuteness and cleverness. 

And I am not alone. According to the newest eMarketer estimates, over 132 million in the U.S. used a tablet last year, and 113.4 million of them will be using the device for viewing video this year. Time spent with video content on tablet will grow 54% to 20 minutes a day, they estimate. This is much higher than the 13 minutes a day people are spending with video on smartphones. And the penetration of video use on the tablet is much higher than on smartphones. This year, tablet video will reach about 35.5% of the population, compared to 27.9% via smartphones. The amount of time spent watching video on tablets is rising at a faster rate than video viewing on any other platform. eMarketer expects that tablets will eventually outstrip desktop and laptops as the leading source for streaming.

How surprising is that, really? For as long as I have been covering online video (and I mean back to the Den and Pseudo TV) I have been asking startup execs in the space what their “real” destination was. I have been arguing for a decade or more that no one really wants to watch video at their desk or even on a laptop. All due respect to what the Web built, but I still believe that among all electronic media of the last century the desktop was the platform we invented that was the least conducive to enjoyable media consumption. I think the rapid migration of media use to devices is a matter of pent-up demand.

Most digital content has been dying to get off the desk for over ten years now. Back in the early 2000s, we expected all of these business models to come to fruition mainly on the TV screen via IPTV and “convergence.” But with the birth of smartphones and especially big tablet surprise, video finally got the alternate destinations it was waiting for.

Not so much the ad dollars, of course. As eMarketer also projects, the desktop will see $4.45 billion in video ad revs this year, compared to $1.44 billion for mobile video. They expect that by 2018 we still will see a bare majority of spend (55.7%) to traditional online.

Ironically, personal devices should be a superior platform for pre-roll video. There is no way to multitask away from a smartphone or tablet pre-roll. On desktops, a 15-second ad spot is my cue to do a quick email check, turning that advertiser’s investment in video into an unwitting radio buy.  

 

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