Mobile Streaming Overtakes TV:
Here’s Why It Matters

Last month I wrote about how our patrons are beginning to shift their access to the internet from a desktop computer to their mobile devices. Now comes fascinating new data that documents a threshold has been crossed. 

Research from eMarketer shows that, for the first time, Americans are spending more time on their mobile devices than on television, as shown in this graphic: 

In some ways, this comparison isn’t valid, because television is essentially a non-interactive experience and one that is site specific. The consumption of television requires that you be in a fixed place (e.g., your living room) for a set time, whereas the mobile video experience is just that — mobile. You can consume all kinds of content on your mobile device, from news and email to entertainment and social media. But importantly, now your patrons can get access from anywhere and at any time to content that used to be limited to television (i.e., streaming media). 

Even though the two experiences are entirely different, the fact that patrons can access live-streamed video on their mobile phones suggests that the entire notion of sitting back and watching television may go the way of the dodo. Speaking for myself, I just got a YouTube TV account, which is as close to having the old TV experience in my pocket as I could have imagined. In fact, I’m convinced that Google built the user interface purposely to be entirely familiar to TV watchers. 

A recent Pew Research Center study highlights this trend by breaking down mobile usage by age:

All of this reinforces my long-held belief that every arts organization should be its own “TV station” publishing video material on a regular basis. You now have this amazing opportunity to offer your patrons extraordinary video content that can whet their appetite for coming to your venue, or reinforce the experience they recently had.  

As an example, I recently saw a jaw-droppingly great modern dance performance, and the following day I got an email with a link to a post-event interview with the dancers. The video was maybe 5 minutes long and helped remind me of what a great performance it was. At the same time, it gave me the ability to re-engage with the organization and the artists, as I learned more about how the work was created. Indeed, this is an example of the constant connection with your audience that Michelle Paul and I recommended as the core thesis in our book Breaking the Fifth Wall.

We’re all arts people here, so I’m convinced you have enough creative ideas to share with your audience. Today video has become the “must have” medium of our age — and given that your patrons are spending more and more time on their mobile devices, I hope the new data I’ve shared above convinces you that now’s the time to take advantage.

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