x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Viewers tuning in to tablets and smartphones more than TV

News providers are adjusting to changing times as viewers move away from traditional live linear television towards more random viewing and more segmented viewing.

One screen or two? Or even three?

While parents may be content to watch just the one – the TV – their children are used to switching between tablets and smartphones. And the media industry is aware that as television’s power wanes, commercial revenues will need to take the multi-screen environment on board.

“McKinsey conducted a global survey and we found in the last five years a very significant shift, especially in the US and western Europe of viewers moving away from traditional live linear television towards more random viewing and more segmented viewing,” said Jacques Bughin, McKinsey’s media and entertainment practice director.

“Classic live TV has lost about 20 per cent of viewing minutes in the last five years and those minutes have been captured by second or third screens. Of course we see people who want specific content such as sport or movies, which is also changing the dynamic.”

Mainstream news providers are courting the digital viewer.

“Engagement is the key to second screen use. If we are not interacting with them, they will be interacting with someone else,” said Samantha Barry, a social media producer for the BBC World News.

Sky News Arabia is of like mind. “As a news content provider you try and push your content to as many outlets as possible” said Nart Bouran, the broadcaster’s news director.

“It’s not just what you think any more, it’s what they think … We are now using the term users rather than viewers.”

Smartphones and tablets are not only changing the way news is being delivered and devoured, but are also changing the way entertainment shows interact with their audience.

“The youth of the planet do not see Twitter as a second screen, they see it as the first screen. So we encourage the writers, stars and crew of any show to tweet,” said Eric Kuhn of United Talent Agency.

“The relationship between Twitter and television is very close and now people will tweet along with a show and that relationship is very important.”

It doesn’t bode well for TV. “When agents negotiate contracts for their clients, they have the impact of their tweets measured,” added Mr Kuhn. “If you pay US$3.2 million for a Super Bowl slot and my clients’ single tweet gets more volume and buzz on Twitter than your Super Bowl ad, then how are you compensating our talent for that … we are trying to innovate how the audience is used.”

ascott@thenational.ae