Television viewers tuning in to mobile and tuning out ads



If Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) has its way, its 14 million subscribers will soon have a multitude of interactive television applications to go along with a multitude of viewing options. This week the satellite TV provider opened its Hopper DVR platform to mobile software developers, a move to fuel the creation of alternative remote control and second-screen services optimized for smartphones and tablets. Dish is opening the same third-party application programming interface used in its own Dish Explorer app for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, which includes Hopper controls as well as content recommendations, information on programs trending across social media platforms, and real-time statistics for sporting events the viewer is currently watching.

Developers can leverage the Dish APIs to create new programming discovery tools as well as Hopper controls for changing channels, setting recordings and playing back DVR and on-demand shows. Startup Thuuz Sports has already incorporated the APIs into its fantasy gaming app for iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. The app processes real-time analytics and social signaling to alert viewers to must-see events, and allows users to customize the app based on their favorite sports, teams and leagues. Pairing the Thuuz app with the Hopper DVR enables Dish subscribers to automatically jump to the most exciting games or record live or upcoming broadcasts, the companies said.

Dish's decision to open the Hopper platform to third-party developers makes perfect sense given the increasing role that smartphones and tablets play for television viewers. Forty-seven percent of all Americans now view programming on a device other than a conventional television, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of independent cable rep firm Viamedia. The survey showed 29 percent of respondents check out broadcasts via tablet, and 18 percent tune into their favorite shows on smartphones. Among the 97 percent of U.S. adults who consume TV programming, 57 percent of subscribers in the much-coveted 18-to-34 demographic said they watch on devices other than TVs--more than any other audience segment, Viamedia added.

But the transition to mobile viewing also presents major challenges for advertisers: While 59 percent of American viewers admit to having some degree of likelihood to act on a commercial they watch, mobile audiences are more resistant to ads than most other groups. Viewers who consume TV content on desktops or laptops are most likely to respond to ads at 29 percent, followed by traditional television viewers (24 percent), smartphone and tablet viewers (21 percent each) and smart TV viewers (just 4 percent). The Harris Interactive/Viamedia survey doesn't outline the reasons why mobile viewers shrug their shoulders at ads, but it's clear that most campaigns aren't generating the kind of interest or excitement necessary to compel them to act. As remote control apps and second-screen interactions evolve to meet the needs of the mobile audience, the ads they see need to evolve in kind. --Jason