Research On iPad's TV Usage Needs New Direction

The iPad may soon join the remote control and DVR in the pantheon of transformative TV devices, if it hasn’t already. Thanks to that prospect, its influence has stretched deeply into media research.  

Never-ending wonder about how iPads will impact the TV ecosystem seems to be generating an amount of research worthy of a national health crisis. Nielsen, networks and academics are on the case, stat. 

Steve Jobs not only leaves a legacy of energizing the music, smartphone and tablet businesses, but media research as well.

If Apple had sat out the tablet revolution and left the space to Kindles, Nooks and maybe some entrants from HP and Sony, would there be this speedy pursuit of consumer insight? Pre-iPad, was there anywhere near this much research on how the Kindle could alter the publishing industry?

Perhaps it would save time and money if media researchers widely agreed that certain truths are now self-evident. It would seemingly benefit all parties if they agreed that enough research has been done on iPad behavior.



Yes, research -– particularly with a technology as novel and fast-growing as iPads– should be ongoing. But, at least for now, the work being done appears to be largely duplicative and yielding results that are intuitive.

Agency and network executives who normally have an insatiable thirst for insight might actually be saying, “Another iPad study? Really?” Isn’t there another topic worth evaluating with such vigor?

Certain hypotheses no longer are worthy of three-month studies with large online panels or focus groups in 25 cities. Research is coming out at such a rapid clip that it is losing punch.

A study might come out on Monday showing 66% of iPad users do X, followed by one on Tuesday showing the number is more like 77%. Then Wednesday, data would flow showing the figure will be 88% by 2017.

Shockingly, the research community isn’t likely to agree by affirmation on various conclusions, but there are obvious trends, where the actual percentages are pretty irrelevant.

Here’s a primer:

-Consumers are increasingly using iPads to engage in dual-screen behavior. They enjoy watching TV, while using the devices. Many are using them to check out content related to the TV show they’re watching simultaneously.

-Consumers appreciate the iPad screen’s HDTV-like display, which makes viewing full-length episodes a thoroughly satisfying experience. They also like the opportunity to catch up on missed shows.

-Consumers would welcome more apps, such as WatchESPN, allowing them to view live content on their iPads anywhere, anytime. Consumers also appreciate opportunities to view content via HBO Go and Netflix platforms.

-Consumers mostly use tablets alone. They don’t enjoy sitting down on the couch with a loved one and watching a show on an iPad together when a large-screen TV is in front of them.

-Consumers who are more technologically inclined use iPads more than consumers who are not as technologically inclined.

-Consumers appreciate the opportunity to view content on iPads, but also engage in social media activities at the same time. Networks can capitalize on this.

-Consumers are more likely to watch video on an iPad if they are in a room without a TV.

-Consumers turn to iPads to watch TV shows when someone else is using the TV, and watching something they are not interested in.

-Consumers like their iPads, but still plan on keeping their smartphones and laptops. Forced to make a decision on keeping only one device, they may opt for the iPad.

-Consumers continue to discover more apps to use on their iPads, particularly when a trusted friend viewed as a virtual clone promotes one.

Even with their aversions, researchers should also agree that releasing data showing consumers welcome ads during iPad content can make them look embarrassingly self-serving. Only, if their work shows the opposite, should they be able to go public.


3 comments about "Research On iPad's TV Usage Needs New Direction".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 20, 2012 at 3:04 p.m.

    It's not unexpected that a revolutionary change in the TV ecosystem would generate so much research. But claiming that intuition trumps scientific measurement is unsupported here (and largely irresponsible opinion). If the results were so obvious, where was this definitive primer BEFORE the findings were revealed? If the trends were so obvious, why wasn't this screed written a year ago? If only "self-evident" truths were so easily reckoned, but they are not until the research is done. Only then can a pundit claim he knew it all along.

  2. Daryl McNutt from New Moon Ski & Bike, April 20, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.

    Research is coming out quickly and the industry is not holding research companies to a scientific standard. Research companies are businesses with a product to sell and not 3rd party "Switzerland's". For online/TV research to be taken seriously it needs to be transparent and up for industry peer review and not a pay to play governing body such as the IAB or MRC.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, April 21, 2012 at 3:16 a.m.

    Hey Doug and Daryl - are you trying to spoil the fan-boys fun by insisting on rigour? What a novel concept (one which I clearly agree with). Not to mention that the writing of articles that cite data based on a minority sub-set of the population as though it applies to the whole population is far, far too common an occurrence (not to mention that it is either deceit or ignorance).

Next story loading loading..