TV is being relegated to second-screen status by smartphones, Barclays analyst says

The gap between time spent on smartphones versus TV is rapidly shrinking, according to new Nielsen data.

Smartphones and tablets have traditionally been the extra screen in second-screen viewing scenarios but some analysts are now saying TV is playing second fiddle to smaller displays.

Citing the most recent Nielsen data, Barclays noted that people aged 18-34 in the U.S. spend more time on smartphones than watching TV. Across all U.S. adults, the gap between time spent on smartphones versus TV is shrinking, too, with the average person spending more than 2.5 hours every day on smartphones versus 4.9 hours on TV, the firm wrote in a research note.

“In this environment, television content is not only competing for time with OTT video but also non-video content like FB, Snapchat and Whatsapp. As we highlighted before, inertia is the most dominant factor driving media consumption,” Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar wrote. “Given the shift in dominant screen used by consumers and the kind of media consumed on these screens, the issue facing media companies is likely to go beyond just seeking digital distribution. With smartphone penetration rates slowing, the focus of internet platforms on engagement is likely to accelerate further. This is a zero sum game for the most part given the physical constraint on time, with media potentially losing the most.”

RELATED: ‘Simultaneous viewing’ may be taking toll on TV ratings, report suggests

An eMarketer report from late last year showed that simultaneous viewing of content on smartphones and TVs could be making consumers more ambivalent about what’s showing on the big screen.

The report said that 183 million U.S. residents use the internet while watching TV at least once a month, or about 80.3% of all internet users in the country. Only about a quarter of those simultaneous viewers are watching something related to what’s on their TV.