Tablets are the new 'couch computer' for TV viewers

By Cory Bergman 

There have been no shortage of studies (click our research tab) on how TV viewers are engaging with the second screen, and today Forrester has released it’s own report focused on the TV-tablet connection. “Tablets are displacing PCs and smartphones as the ‘couch computer’ of choice,” writes Forrester’s Sarah Rotman Epps, citing Nielsen data we reported earlier this week. That study found that 85% of US tablet owners use their tablets while watching TV.

While we know about the amazing crossover, Epps explains that 18% of tablet owners say they’ve actually connected their tablets to their TV sets via HDMI or VGA cables (or via Apple Airplay). “As much as Samsung and others have promoted ‘Smart TVs,’ the reality is that consumers with tablets think their tablets are even smarter, and at least some of the time prefer to watch the content from their small device on the big screen,” she writes.

To me, that illustrates the amazing potential for Apple to create an ecosystem of TV apps that communicate seamlessly with iPad and iPhone apps. Today, a “universal” iOS app means it works for iPhone and iPad. Soon, it will also work on your TV. When that happens (not if), the second screen space will elevate to a new scale we’ve never experienced before.

For example, what role can the TV set play for other industries, as well? “If your product is something else besides media – a software application, a bank account, or apparel, for example – assume that the living room is the primary place where consumers will engage with you from their tablet, and that the TV will most likely be on,” Epps explains. Exciting times ahead.