Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why Watch TV at Home When You Have a Perfectly Good iPhone to Squint At?

Yet more evidence that “mobile” is relative when it comes to smartphones, iPads, and online video. Here’s another study that says lots of people are watching stuff on their gadgets when they’re just a few feet from their own TVs.

This one comes from Nielsen, and was commissioned by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing trade group. The takeaway: Users are most likely to watch video via apps from the likes of YouTube, Hulu and others when they’re at home.

The CTAM study touches on lots of other data about video apps — the trade group seems most interested in pointing out that the apps don’t seem to cut into regular TV viewing, but enhance it and encourage more. And that may all be true!

But it seems increasingly clear that lots of people are using iPhones, Android handsets and iPads (and maybe, one day, Android tablets) as auxiliary TV sets at home. What that means for the TV business depends on your perspective: Perhaps you believe, as CTAM suggests, that this is good for the TV business.

On the other hand, if you’re in the business of selling TV advertising, you won’t be pleased: Eyeballs that watch video over the Web are eyeballs that aren’t watching on a TV set. And right now, at least, advertisers don’t think the former are anywhere near as valuable as the latter.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work