Watching TV Shows On The Phone? Sounds Crazy, But A Continuing Trend

To many, it sounds  nuts: Watching a TV show on your phone. Can’t people wait to get home and watch a bigger image in comfort?

Not really, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal that cites a recent survey from Branded Research in which 50% of Americans said they regularly use their mobile phones to watch streaming TV.

We get it that a mobile device is portable -- and in many ways quite personal, especially for younger consumers, The trend is perhaps a spillover effect from the short-form video platform TikTok, where video consumption can be high among its largely Gen Z users. Regular TikTok users can watch over an hour of that content per day, according to the study.

The other side of the argument is obvious: You know, it’s a small screen. Doesn’t everyone want to watch “The Masked Singer” on something bigger, to see all those crazy costumes?

Not necessarily. Watching TV shows on mobile is a trend that’s been around for a while, both before and after the demise of short-lived Quibi, which delivered TV series in bite-sized 10-12 minute increments to subscribers.

Quibi strategists believed people waiting in line at a supermarket, in a doctor’s office, or other out-of-home locations, would want o fill their time with video content. But Monday morning quarterbacking might now tell you a different story.

What if Quibi’s initial older-skewing targeted audiences was the wrong approach? Maybe the company should have targeted a younger millennial/GenX/GenZ crowd. And maybe not just those waiting online at a bank, but at a Starbucks or outside at a skateboard shop.

And then there’s this. The WSJ interviewed a 45-year-old media executive who said she watches TV on her phone at home, even when the TV set is right in front of her!

Why? Holding a phone close to her face yields a more “intimate experience,” she says. But we’re guessing that a crucial business email might be coming her way, which keeps her looking at just one screen

For millennials/Gen Z-ers, this amounts to not missing friends’ texts or their missives on the likes of Discord, Instagram, or other social media platforms.

One screen -- with zero neck movement -- tells all.

3 comments about "Watching TV Shows On The Phone? Sounds Crazy, But A Continuing Trend".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 4, 2021 at 9:15 a.m.

    Wayne, I'm sure that a lot of people watch "TV"or "videos" on their phones "frequently"---like once or twice a week for five minutes per occasion. And some folks may prefer to watch an edgy , "original drama" when they are at home, sitting in front of their big screen TV set---but they use their smartphone, instead. Maybe they even "binge watch" the series, that way---watching three or four hours of its episodes continuously---sometimes. But I don't think that this kind of activity amounts to a hill of very small beans compared to the way most TV shows or videos are watched---mainly on a big screen whenever this option is available.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston replied, November 4, 2021 at 1:03 p.m.

    I remember the predictions that most people would never stream. How did that work out?

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 4, 2021 at 4:33 p.m.

    Probably as well as the predictions---or outright claims---that TV is dead, Douglas.

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