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Apps attract more viewer attention than most TV shows

Social games on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices are competing for television viewers.  In fact, these apps, tracked on the Flurry network alone, comprise of a daily audience of more than 19 million who spend over 22 minutes per day using these apps.  Treated as a consumer audience, its size and reach rank somewhere between NBC’s Sunday Night Football and ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and only 4 million viewers shy from beating the number one prime-time show on television, FOX’s American Idol.

via Flurry.

I cannot tell from the original article if the iOS audience is US only and therefore not clear whether the TV shows compete for the same eyeballs, but the data shows just how far apps have come to capturing attention.

  • J Ives

    Striking stats, but there could be overlap; playing a game while watching a show, or during commercial breaks.

    Nonetheless it indicates nicely the looming disruption for cable and network TV operators.

  • Halex_Pereira

    Apples & oranges.
    Could someone explain me how such comparation is valid? A category of apps vs. Individual shows?

    • asymco

      From an advertiser's point of view these two types of content are equivalent because they deliver attention to the ads. So an advertiser may ask why they are paying $x/view for a TV show when they could be paying a tiny fraction of that for the same view through an iAd. This is the premise for Apple entering the ad business. When the total time spent in apps is added up, it amounts to more impressions than many of the traditional alternatives that attract 85% of all spending on advertising.

  • Gandhi

    The market is audience entertainment time. THere is a fixed amount of time a working person has for entertainment in the evening. Of course with entertainment, one could broaden the market to include eating out, watching movie in the theater, etc. But with devices like the iPad, the market is better limited to entertainment viewing at home. One could watch a show on the iPad or play a game, or watch traditional TV. I know my traditional TV viewing has been drastically reduced since I got the iPad.

  • MattF

    I think that TV watching is going to fall off the bottom of everyone's to-do lists. The last holdouts will be sports fans– when they go mobile, it'll be end-times for networks and cable.

  • Kal

    While on this topic, couldn't help noticing Windows phone 7 commercial which shows phone users so preoccupied with their phone, that they put themselves in physical harm. It shows people so absorbed by the tiny back-lit square in front of them, that they ignore everything else. Quite an interesting campaign. The windows selling point, get in, get done what you want and get out fast.

    John Gruber at daring fireball raises an interesting point that it's because ioS or android are so good at doing the job that they are hired for, that we use them more and more and find more places to do these jobs. Can Windows succeed with a marketing strategy that says we do it better than them, so you won't come back as often to us? I wonder if there is another example of a similar marketing strategy?

    I am tempted to compare this to fast food, but the analogy breaks down beyond the superficiality.

    How will this play with the advertising community where eyeballs are all the rage?

    • asymco

      I think I can shed some light on the history for the "glance UI" spin on WP. Microsoft spent a great deal of effort (and capital) on a technology called SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology). It was supposed to be the future of watches. You can search the details, but basically their research showed that there is a class of information that is best suitable for a glance UI–the most obvious being seeing the time.

      Now it seems to me that they lifted the glance concept directly from SPOT into WP. I am not sure that their findings fit the product or the business model. Nor does it seem like it's something that competitors can't copy or emulate.

      • dms

        Seems like MS is ceding the high-end market to Apple and Android and going for a "feature-plus" phone strategy, a bit like what they did with the Kin but much better.

        If this is really the case, RIM, low-end Nokia, and low-end Android will be impacted the most.

      • http://twitter.com/_ChrisHarris @_ChrisHarris

        What I find interesting about the WP marketing message, is that it is *not* better for this kind of dip in/out actions that they are keen to promote. I takes more taps and swipes to achieve tasks, the density of information / per pixel is less (http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/iphone-video.adp) and the font based display of information makes it difficult to differentiate between types of content.

        I suspect the reason they want you to 'spend less time in the phone' is because the experience of using it is so bad ;)

  • Marcos El Malo

    I'm sure Horace will devote at least a post and probably many to this topic.

    I found the first two advertisements of the MS campaign to be pretty brilliant. If you're a viewer of Mad Men or if you are interested in advertising, you might be aware that advertising is used to associate a feeling with a product, and then sell us the product by selling us on the feeling. The feeling MS is selling here is smugness! And their target customer (in the ads at least) are the 90+% of people that are not phone or techno philes. Whatever you want to call them: Ordinary, average people. The unwashed masses. Non-geeks. The ad is saying, "You're not one of these silly people whose lives revolve around their phones, so you should buy our phone which is just as good if not better than the silly people phones. Look how silly they are! You're better than them."

    This is incredibly smart of MS. The 10% of the market that is the early adopters, the twitter/blogo sphere, the geeks and the nerds, etc. is already saturated. The growth is going to come from the other 90%. Apple understands this, and their advertising reflects this understanding. The Android handset makers don't seem to get this, judging from the advertising I've been seeing, which seems targeted towards scifi fans and hipster douchebags with well paid white collar jobs and cyborgian wet dreams.

    (I haven't seen any actual Samsung Galaxy S adverts, so I went to their website. The whole introductory interactive flash presentation follows a handsome young man (i.e., a douchebag, but not a particularly hip one) as he uses his Galaxy constantly throughout the day. It shows him completely focused on his phone and never interacting with anyone other than through his phone. Indeed, he is the only human character in the presentation. Samsung seems to be trying to get away from the Android branding where they can, but I don't know that their brand vision is any better.)

    • Marcos El Malo

      I just found the samsungUSAtube channel on you tube. All the adverts they had posted for the Galaxy phones showcase the phones ability to play action/scifi/fantasy movies. The ad for the Tab was clearly aimed at the hipster douchebag market.

      In terms of differentiation, MS has done a great job. Assuming their phones aren't shit, they're going to be a major competitor to both Android and iOS.

    • asymco

      I'm not going to read too much into ads, and I don't know if they are that significant, but the notion that Microsoft is aiming WP to "average people" is quite accurate. I'm sure they researched their user base and the competition before embarking into WP. The data probably showed that Windows Mobile was too much for "geeks". They sensed that Android is similarly positioned and that iPhone and Blackberry aren't. So they consciously decided to highlight this. The departure of WP from WM is striking. Where WM users were proud of having mutli-tasking, large app catalog, multiple app stores, cut and paste, enterprise integration, the WP platform offers none of these things. Microsoft essentially fired their entire customer base.

      • Marcos El Malo

        That's a very good point, but how much of that base was still there? How many users are there that hadn't already moved on to an android or iOS phone (or to RIM for that matter)? How many developers hadn't yet switched to another mobile OS? I don't know these numbers, but I suspect both their user base and developer base have been greatly eroded already.

        I think doing a full reset was a smart move rather than a foolhardy one. Many people keep wondering if/when Nokia will do the same. Others wonder if Nokia is even capable of doing a reset in the near future. RIM's reset is taking place (possibly) with their purchase of QNX. WebOS has taken a different route by being aquired by HP.

        In a way, MS is taking a page from Apple in dumping their old bases. They're disrupting their own business. This isn't so much a bold move as it a recognition of the reality that their business has already been disrupted by others. At least we can say that MS is learning and that it is a change from MS business-as-usual.

        I'm not trying to be a MS cheerleader here. It's in my own financial interest that Apple succeeds in pulling in the lion's share of profits. (Apple passes 300! Woohoo!) I just think it's important to recognize that MS has re-entered the market in a big way, and will probably be one of the major players soon enough. It's early days yet in the smart phone market.

    • dms

      I understand the simplicity of the UI being a major selling point. But I wonder whether the "tile" UI is too abstract for the moms and pops. As a graphic designer (with a print background), I dig the Metro look. However, I tend to think the colorful buttons with the recognizable objects are more familiar and easier to understand for the not so tech/design-savvy.

  • unhinged

    Apple markets to the younger generation, who don't see phone obsession as a bad thing. MS is marketing to the older generation (as they have for some time) who have different social mores.

    But the times, they are a-changin'.