Tablets could spur pay-TV cord shaving, says analyst

The specter of cord-cutting continues to haunt major television companies. According to a new study from research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, the growing popularity of portable media tablets could lead to a new round of “cord-shaving” — pay-TV customers cutting back on their monthly cable bills to spend more time watching content on the smaller second screen.

Tablets could spur pay-TV cord shaving, says analyst

CMB was quick to admit that television as it’s existed for decades is likely here to stay. There probably won’t be a mass exodus of pay-TV customers to strictly over-the-air services. But that doesn’t mean newfangled tablets, with all their inherent flexibility, won’t shake up how we consume home entertainment.

The group’s “Consumer Pulse” survey revealed more than 50 percent have watched a TV show online, with 43 percent saying they were “somewhat likely” to cut back on pricey monthly premium access by 2013 and 16 percent saying they were “highly likely.” CMB Director Jon Giegengack believes the numbers mean a strong future for over-the-top TV, though not necessarily at the expense of pay-TV.

“This suggests that a big chunk of consumers’ TV-watching dollars could shift, even if their pay TV cords remain intact,” Giegengack said. “And, that awareness and perceived value of OTT have risen to a point where consumers of all kinds are investigating OTT as an option.”

Though tablets weren’t created to be an alternative to a big-screen HDTV, CMB found that 58 percent of owners used the second screen to watch TV in the living room. More surprisingly, 63 percent said that they did so willingly and not because a family member or roommate was hogging the TV.

Giegengack surmised that the numbers could hint at a future where tablets play an important, if complimentary role in the TV watching experience. Others have already predicted that advertisers could exploit the trend of viewers watching a show on TV while simultaneously tinkering with a tablet to launch new ad campaigns.

On the other hand, it’s possible for networks to use the available second screen to enhance the overall viewing experience. Imagine watching an episode of “Fringe” on your 55-inch HDTV, and having factoids about the current episode pop up on your iPad in real-time.

A tablet’s streaming-friendly nature also means it’s better suited to consumer preference, CMB found. Respondents overwhelmingly told the firm that they preferred streaming over buying, and would rather have access to more content than new content. No wonder Netflix remains such a popular service despite several recent blunders. (via Home Media Magazine)

Do you use your tablet for TV even when you’re at home? Let us know in the comment section.