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Mobile phones and tablets are expected to become the “first screen” that people use to view live coverage of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, according to a survey of U.S. users by multiscreen service platform Phunware.

The switch from prerecorded television to mobile reflects a desire for more Olympic content and the ability to control what you see on the screen, Austin, Texas-based Phunware said.

The data is based on a survey of 456 people across the U.S. Phunware’s Multiscreen as a Service platform helps brands engage, manage, and monetize their users anytime, anywhere.

The study shows that mobile has become much more than a second-screen experience, with smartphones and tablets increasingly playing the role of a primary device, as fans’ demand for live coverage and customized content grows.

“Today’s consumers want more control over their media experiences. They expect access to the content and information they want, when they want it, and traditional television and even web viewing just doesn’t align with those expectations,” said Alan Knitowski, chairman and CEO of Phunware, in a statement. “Mobile gives them that level of customization and on-demand accessibility, so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing consumers turn off the TV and turn to mobile to stay connected, especially when it comes to some of the biggest media events of the year, like the Summer Olympics.”

The survey found that prime time coverage is no longer enough. While networks have traditionally depended on pre-taped, prime time coverage to drive viewership, 86 percent of consumers prefer live coverage. And three out of four consumers said they were bothered by the lack of live event coverage during past Olympics, with 61 percent saying the events are much less compelling to watch when they’re not live.

When it comes to their Olympics coverage wish list, 75 percent of respondents want the ability to choose which events to watch, with 63 percent wanting the ability to watch any event live, not just the most popular.

Phunware also reported that 77 percent of consumers say they’re likely to access this year’s Olympic events and content on a mobile device. Of those who will turn to mobile, more than half cited the ability to watch live coverage as a primary reason, with one quarter saying that mobile provides more or better content than TV coverage. What’s more, 70 percent say they plan to watch the games directly on a smartphone or tablet, compared to just 23 percent who will be using mobile as a second-screen experience.

More than half of consumers said their experience of the Olympics would be more enjoyable if they had more control over which countries, athletes, and events they could watch. Seventy-four percent of consumers said the ability to receive customized, real-time notifications and reminders about the events they care most about would make them more likely to download Olympic-related mobile apps, with 75 percent saying they would opt-in to receiving customized notifications about scores and events.

“Mobile can no longer be an afterthought or an add-on but must now be at the center of every media company’s content and engagement strategy,” said Knitowski. “Brands have to think long-term. How do you create an experience that’s compelling enough to get and keep consumer attention? More importantly, how do you take the incredible amount of data every mobile interaction provides, and use those insights to better understand your audience and ensure you’re delivering the most relevant, impactful experience possible?”


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