iOS apps have bigger audiences than TV

Faith Merino · October 11, 2010 · Short URL:

Data from Flurry reveals that iOS gaming apps have more users than major TV shows

Fears of Apple’s cannibalizing power has found voice in recent weeks over everything from worries over the iPad’s potential to annihilate laptop sales to concerns about the future of e-readers.  The latest hapless soul assumed to have fallen in Apple’s march of doom: soap operas.  It’s a bloodbath!

Yes, it appears that social games on the Apple operating system are now competing with popular TV shows and sports broadcasts.  Research from Flurry reveals that 19 million users spend an average of 22 minutes per day on iOS social gaming apps on devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, which is a bigger consumer audience than that seen by NBC’s Sunday Night Football and almost matches ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”  Fox’s “American Idol,” the number one rated TV show in America, leads iOS users by only four million daily viewers.

In conjunction with this, Flurry notes that Soap Operas have been suffering under the reign of Apple as TV’s once captive audience has now shifted over to a new media experience.  In October 2009, CBS canceled “Guiding Light,” which was first aired in 1952 and was the longest running television drama in TV history.  In September, CBS also canceled “As the World Turns,” which has been running for over 50 years.  Furthermore, ad dollars allocated to soap operas fell by 30% between 2005 and 2009, and then fell an additional 20% in the first half of 2010.

Particularly noteworthy is the fact that apps are available any time, 365 days a year, while most TV series only air 22 episodes a year, which means that advertisers can reach iOS users 15 times more frequently than TV viewing audiences.

Additionally, Flurry notes that its own view is fairly limited as it has only integrated into some 50,000 apps out of Apple’s total 250,000 apps.  With only a 20% reach, and as it is focusing exclusively on gaming and social networking apps, Flurry is only seeing a fraction of the real picture, which means that iOS devices already command larger audiences than TV programs.

“There are a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from this phenomenal shift in audience behavior,” writes Peter Farago, Flurry’s VP of marketing.  “The most obvious is the impact on the advertisement industry, which has relied on the reach generated by its prime time television slot for years.”

It should be noted, however, that Flurry’s research does not compare individual apps against individual TV programs, but is instead comparing the entire iOS ecosystem to individual TV programs, which does change the game a little bit.  

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