iPad Changes the Way we Watch TV

You would think that from all the advertising and hype about iPads, Playbooks and other tablet computers that everybody’s got one of these shinny, new, high tech gadgets but a recent survey indicates that only about 5% percent of North American households actually have a tablet computer.  Apple’s iPad holds an 80% percent market share while the other 40 manufacturers including Samsung, Blackberry, Motorola and others make up the remaining 20% percent of the tablet market.

While most owners use their tablets to email, surf the web, display and view pictures and listen to music an increasing number are using the iPad and other tablets to augment their TV viewing or in many cases watch TV directly on the tablet.

Recently my wife and I watched the Kennedy’s Mini Series on HBO with the iPad sitting close by on the coffee table.  Throughout the show my wife reached for the iPad to look up various historical references and events made during the mini series from the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis to the Kent State Incident and medical references to JFK’s  Addison’s Disease.  The iPad enhanced my wife’s enjoyment of the show making the program almost interactive as well as informative, educational and entertaining.  The iPad is also a great resource when watching other TV programs and sporting events allowing you to quickly look up things.

While the iPad is handy to look up things while watching TV it turns out that for many Tablet owners the iPad or Tablet is also being used at the primary screen to WATCH TV.  Of course the iPad comes standard with a Youtube App but several cable companies and networks have developed their own apps allowing you to stream and watch their programs directly on the iPad or tablet.  The convenience and mobility of the go anywhere TV is appealing to many viewers who don’t want to be tied down to sitting in front of a TV screen in one room.  The iPad allows you to watch TV anywhere, in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, patio deck, garage, car, inside, outside you name it!

Broadcasters are trying to tap into the power of the iPad by referencing “Go to our website” for more information on a particular story or program and some savvy producers are even making short programs streamed on the internet ideally suited for the mobile iPad watching TV audience.

The PVR was once thought to be the biggest threat to broadcast TV, however if early trends are any indication, tablet computers and their smaller counterparts Smart Phones may be the biggest distraction to traditional broadcast television and advertising  as more and more people shift away from traditional TV in favor of the highly mobile, portable and customizable Tablet TV.

The biggest barrier to widespread adoption of Tablet TV is cost and bandwidth.  Video content is a heavy bandwidth user and the cost of tablets and mobile internet is not cheap.  Until pricing on both hardware and mobile internet access drops – Tablet TV watching will remain a luxury and novelty.

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