As if the ongoing streaming takeover isn't enough, it turns out that even when people are watching TV, they're not really watching it.
A New York Times magazine article on Sunday chronicles Comedy Central's ongoing transformation from a cable channel with "a guy yelling at you" to an integrated media machine with 4.2 million YouTube subscribers and 1.3 million Twitter followers.
But, as Comedy Central is learning—Viacom, the channel's parent company, saw a 6 percent drop in advertising revenue in the first quarter of this year—and many other channels are fearing, viewing figures aren't all they're cracked up to be.
It turns out that even though a quarter of all television content is consumed live, it may not really be worth it—because people aren't watching the ads.
According to data from alphonso, mobile device usage peaks during TV's prime-time hours, and spikes coincide exactly when programs break for commercials. The bummer for advertisers is that while they're paying thousands for eyeballs on the screen, people are pulling out their device right when the ads come on.
"Every 15 or 20 minutes, right when there's a commercial break on TV, you just see this massive peak in [mobile] activity," said Ashish Chordia, founder and chief executive of alphonso.
That means that even if Nielsen ratings—the industry standard for selling advertisements against a program—say that a million people watch a show, a lot of them are essentially shutting their eyes to the ad breaks.