Mobile becomes America's first screen

20 November 2014

NEW YORK: The average American now spends almost three hours a day on a mobile device, pushing these ahead of television for the first time, according to a new analysis.

While time spent on TV has remained constant, at 168 minutes, for the past three years, Flurry, the mobile analytics business, charted the rise of time spent on mobile devices, from 109 minutes at the start of 2012 to 162 minutes at the beginning of this year.

Over the past nine months, time spent on mobile devices has increased a further 9.3% to reach 177 minutes. "As of September 2014, it is a new world in the American living room," declared Flurry.

There is of course an overlap in the time spent with these devices: Nielsen has reported that 86% of US smartphone owners use their smartphones and tablets while watching TV, and nearly half do so daily.

Earlier this year eMarketer noted that consumers were already spending more time online than on TV, and that more time was being now spent on the mobile internet than on the desktop as smartphones and tablets reached "critical mass".

Flurry attributed the latest development to the growth in mobile apps helping people do everything from staying fit and organised to checking sports scores. It was, it said, "only logical that they would turn to their phones more often than their TV sets".

And while this appeared to be true – time spent on the mobile web remained flat – it was not the leading apps that were driving the increasing time consumers were spending on mobile.

The top 25 apps, ranked by time spent, had seen a mere 1% increase in time spent with them (from 69 minutes to 70 minutes) during the first nine months of the year, while the rest had registered a 21% increase (from 70 minutes to 85 minutes).

Mobile overtaking television was a big moment for the app industry as well as the mobile industry, said Flurry. "Most app developers didn't know back in 2008 that they would be building the next generation of TV channels. Many consumers installing apps also didn't know that they were tuning in to new TV channels."

Data sourced from Flurry; additional content by Warc staff