The Smartphone Is The Remote Control

Remember when this yearwas the year of interactive TV? And then the next year was, and the next, and the next?

Well, it’s taken a decade, maybe more, to finally reach the year of interactive TV, and the manifestation of it sure isn’t what the pundits prognosticated. Forget playing along with a game on TV, or clicking on Jennifer Aniston’s sweater. Interactive TV is simple, and it can scale to pretty much everyone because pretty much everyone has a cell phone. That’s how interactive TV is finally playing out.

Consider this recent discovery: About 16% of American homes with a broadband connection use their mobile device to control what they watch on TV, according to a new survey from research firm The Diffusion Group on multiscreen behavior. About 12% of adult broadband consumers use a smartphone as a remote control, while 8% use a tablet. Some even use both – about 4%.

Does this mean consumers are chucking their regular remote controls? Nope. About 80% of broadband homes still use a regular remote control, while 36% of those homes said they use a universal remote.

But the fact that a meaningful percentage use their mobile device to change channels should not be ignored. The use of mobile phones to control the TV also has far-reaching potential for social media, TDG said. “Getting consumers to use these devices to control the basic functionality of their televisions is an influential first step towards more widespread use of social TV applications. Not all will fall in line, but original control use casts a much wider net,” said Michael Greeson,  TDG’s president and director of research, in a report.

If the mobile phone becomes more pervasive as a remote, operators could put both their user interface and their electronic program guide on mobile phones, perhaps as an app.

This finding also serves as a reminder that consumers set the market pace for technology adoption.

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2 comments about "The Smartphone Is The Remote Control".
  1. Robert Rosentel from Mediavatis Consulting LLC , May 21, 2014 at 2:12 p.m.
    The year of Interactive TV was 1994! Time magazine cover story was the "Information Superhighway", just prior to the Time Warner Cable launch announcement for the Full Service Network in Orlando. Then we started counting the years!
  2. Clinton Gallagher from virtualCableTV , May 23, 2014 at 3:45 p.m.
    GONG! TV Liberation Day was -NOT- in 1994 because the Time Magazine cover article did not refer to connected TV markets per se the cover article was all about the emergence of broadband and the pervasive always on state of being connected that the cable companies used to leap frog the telephony companies who only had copper pairs to dial on. Actually... TV Liberation Day was June 12th 1997 the final deadline mandated by the FCC in the USA that mandated by law all over-the-air broadcasting must stop using analog signals and must begin using digital signals. Every 15 minutes on TV around the clock "got your converter box?" Like a parrot sqwauk "got your converter box?" It was perhaps the most annoying year in TV history.