Every Screen is a TV; Nielsen Says Gaming Consoles, Mobile Viewing Up

Recently, my son wanted to see a different TV show than the one his sister was watching on the big screen. I said he could watch his show somewhere else and he pointed out that his sister was using the TV.

I laughed and said “Every screen in this house is a TV.”

And they are. We don’t have cable service and the ten-year-old TV set we have doesn’t tune in broadcast channels. So whether it’s the big screen, a Mac computer, a tablet or a mobile phone — any device with a screen is equal in my house. They can all, effectively, access the same programming — Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, iTunes or Hulu, since those are the “channels” we watch.

This is how cross-platform studies on multi-screen use play out in my home, but there are studies too, if you want fast facts at your fingertips. About 21% of U.S. homes, or about 27 million, have an Internet-ready TV, game console, Blu-ray player or smart set-top box that’s connected (not just owned, but connected) to the Web, according to ABI Research that released this week. By far, a gaming console is the most popular route to the web — it reaches 80% of connected homes.

To be fair, most Americans still watch video on the traditional tube. Of the five hours of video Americans watch every day, 98% of those are seen on a TV set, Nielsen said in its just-released cross-platform report. Nielsen also reported that the number of hi-def homes grew by more than 8 million to 80.2 million in the last year.

Game consoles are now in 45% of TV homes. “Consoles have become strategically positioned as a secondary gateway to TV content,” the report said. Nielsen also found that 33.5 million mobile phone users watch video on their phones, up nearly 36% over last year.

The next way all these screens will collide is via social media. During recent conversations I had with media, technology and entertainment executives at NAB, most cited social TV as the area to watch. Technologists are increasingly adding social media tracking to their tools because social media sentiment can play a big role in finding new programs to watch. Viewers seem to be responding to network-driven events. USA Network recently partnered with Viggle, a social TV service that offers rewards for watching TV shows, for a live event surrounding USA’s broadcast of the film To Kill a Mockingbird, and saw a doubling in the number of Viggle check-ins, with 50% of Viggle users also playing along with polls. Results like this will likely keep networks returning to social TV, which leads to even more blending of the screens.

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