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Are Tablets Really the Future of T.V.?

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With the evolution of tablet computers over the past few years, it seems that notebooks have lost their top ranking as consumers' preferred second TV. A new study released by Viacom indicates that "Tablet devices have emerged as the leading second-screen alternative to television for viewing full-length episodes, according to 'Tapping Into Tabletomics.'"

The American study drew from an online survey of over 2,500 people between the ages of 8-54 years old, in addition to extensive interviews conducted with tablet users in New York, and Los Angeles.

Some of the results indicating that over the span of a few years, tablet computers have exponentially increased to the second preferred full-length television viewing device, behind the traditional television. The rising tablet trend accounts for 15 per cent of all full-length TV show viewing. Viacom's press release says:

"Since tablets came into play, FLTV show viewing on desktops and smartphones has declined the most. Top genres viewed on tablets - comedy and music - align more with computers than the TV. Reality is the top genre viewed on television, followed by drama, science fiction and sports."

It was found that there is a clear correlation between Netflix subscribers, Apple TV owners and AirPlay users, as they are also aggressive tablet users.

Other results from "Tapping Into Tabletomics" included that over one third of both AirPlay and WhisperSync users -- 35 per cent and 34 per cent respectively -- report that they watch more television shows on their tablets because of the wide availability of mobile applications.

While tablets are being reported as the second most-watched source for television shows, are the number percentages high enough to fuel the trend for the several years to come?

A large number of users are also participating in a "dual-screen" companion app experience -- proving to be quite a success. Traditional television shows -- a great example being Citytv's Canada's Got Talent -- are integrating a digital interactive application. It allows viewers to interact via chat, Twitter and Facebook, into the television-watching experience acting as a complementary add-on, rather than separate television screen altogether.

"Our audiences are some of the most deeply engaged and active across social platforms," said Colleen Fahey Rush, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, Viacom Media Networks. "Co-viewing apps create more meaningful ways to reach them and represent an entirely new level of engagement for fans of our content."

With the popularity of the iPad and similar tablets, these results may appear obvious to some. The traditional television still reigns supreme when it comes to providing the best experience. While the tablets are great for providing convenient on-demand content, the reality is people are still going to desire to watch their favourite football game, or HD content. The tablet is simply too small to watch games for hours on end.

Other factors one must take into consideration would include the ISP bandwidth, data usage bucket caps, reliability of the connection, and processing power/graphics of the tablet itself.

Are you watching more content on your tablet, versus your desktop PC? In past experience, what was the selection like for you, in terms of programming? Is it comparable to a traditional cable/satellite subscription? Do you find companion-apps to be a huge distraction to the show, altogether? Sound off in the comments below.

[With files from Viacom]