Major Decline In TV Ratings Linked To Apple iOS App Use: Nonsense Or Part Of A Larger Problem For The TV Biz?

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How did that silly song go? TV killed the radio star? First off, try telling that to Ron Bennington. Second off, whatever. Now we’re getting word that Apple, thanks to all those iOS-powered devices out there, is killing the TV star. Or, in English, that iOS, specifically the Apps, is responsible for recent downward trend in TV ratings. Hmm.

The underlying argument here, put forward by Flurry, which describes itself as “a leading smartphone application analytics and monetization platform,” is that people are spending less time in front of their TV because they’re doing other things.

Flurry’s own numbers indicate a huge upswing in the number of Apps (specifically social games and social networking) out there, as well as the amount of time spent in front of those Apps.

Why watch TV when you have a virtual farm to tend to?

All told, according to Flurry’s numbers—remember: Flurry doesn’t track every App in existence—more than 19 million people spend some 22 minutes per day in front of a social game or social network App.

This is an argument that has existed for many, many years, that as people’s entertainment options increase they’re less inclined to sit in front of the TV on Must See Thursday and watch TV Show at 8pm sharp. If you’re lucky they’ll Tivo it. If you’re not lucky they’re off doing other things, like playing World of Warcraft, fragging their friends on Xbox Live with Halo: Reach, reading Countdown to Lockdown on their Kindle or Nook or Kobo, or watching on-demand movies via Netflix.

(Incidentally, that’s partially why I’m so uninterested in Google TV: I simply don’t watch enough TV for the platform to make any sort of difference in my life. The only time I’ll sit in front of a TV is to watch live sports—say, a soccer game or a UFC event. Otherwise I’m either reading or putting to good use my PC’s very expensive graphics card.)

But let’s also not pretend that all TV ratings are heading south. The NFL’s Monday Night Football has never seen better ratings than what it’s seeing this season. That probably goes to my earlier point, that one of the few things that will still command a live audience going forward is sports. Nobody wants to see The Big Game on a two-day time-shifted delay.

So, is it time to compose the song “iOS Killed The TV Star”? Maybe, but you’d better be prepared to fit “iOS, and Video Games, and Books, and Netflix, and Other Sources of Entertainment in the Year 2010 Killed The TV Star” into a run rhyming scheme.

Good luck!

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