Just as the social experience of TV no longer requires the physical presence of the people we watch with, we’re also no longer tethered to TV sets themselves. Television content remains as popular as ever, even as our passion for programming inspires us to seek out new ways to view on other devices.

Today, the possibility of watching TV content is with us at all times. Smartphones are in our pockets, while laptop computers and tablets offer additional possibilities for on-the-go viewing.  As a result, the TV experience is broadening and filling more time slots through the day.

While people still consume TV on a traditional set, the viewing experience is also becoming more mobile.

This was a key finding from TV S.M.A.R.T., a new research project by Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) that shows how and why TV viewing is changing, as well as how advancements in distribution are leading people to consume and engage with content in new ways. Through this study, VIMN gained unprecedented access into viewers’ lives using a multi-layered approach that included a quantitative study of over 20,000 respondents in 32 countries, a deeper analysis in six European countries, and qualitative ethnographies spanning 13 countries and five continents.

The project’s main findings were that audiences still love TV and TV content, viewers use a “hierarchy of screens” to choose the devices they view on, and that in order to be successful, TV today must be S.M.A.R.T. (Social, Mobile, Accessible, Relevant, and Tailored).

We’ll cover all of those elements in our series of posts on TV S.M.A.R.T.  Here, we’re focusing on “M” for Mobile:

Portable devices allow access to TV outside the comfort of home, transforming idle moments into enjoyment.

  • People like to be able to watch anywhere and at any time – whether at home, in line at a store, commuting to work, or at the airport waiting to catch a flight
  • The growing number of Wi-Fi hot spots, improving cellular networks, and increasing prevalence of mobile/portable devices will create a feeling of TV 24/7
  • When thinking about TV 24/7, consider that smartphones are the one device that never leaves consumers’ sides

44% of global TV viewers access TV content online via methods other than a TV set.

  • Laptop and desktop computers are the most common alternative means of accessing TV content (24% and 20%, respectively)
  • Smartphones are the next most common (15%)
  • Just 7% use tablets to watch video, mostly due to lower penetration – but because video consumption is high among tablet owners, this percentage will rise as more people get tablets
  • 4% watch on gaming systems

Watching TV on mobile phones happens frequently, often in moments of boredom – but doesn’t offer the same experience as viewing on a larger screen.

  • Smartphone video viewing on smartphones provides instant access to viewers on the go, but also less excitement
  • The top genres to watch specifically on a smartphone are music videos/clips (27%), movies (19%), cartoons (16%), comedy (16%), and sports (16%)