market research+online video+tabletsMedia tablets have quickly reached critical consumer mass in the U.S., and they’ve become the preferred mobile device of choice for watching online video, according to an advance report from comScore’s forthcoming TabLens monthly syndicated service.

One in four U.S. smartphone owners were using tablets during the three month-period ended April. Tablet users were nearly three times more likely to watch video on their devices compared to smartphone users, with one in every 10 tablet users viewing video content daily, according comScore found.

“Tablets are one of the most rapidly adopted consumer technologies in history and are poised to fundamentally disrupt the way people engage with the digital world both on-the-go and perhaps most notably, in the home,” commented Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of Mobile. “It’s not surprising to see that once consumers get their hands on their first tablet, they are using them for any number of media habits including TV viewing.”

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Tablet adoption has exploded since Apple introduced the first iPad just two years ago. As of April, 16.5% of mobile phone subscribers used a tablet, 11.8 percentage points above the year-ago level. Tablet market penetration has been even more impressive among U.S. smartphone owners, with nearly 1-in-4 using a tablet, 13.9 percentage points above the year-ago level. In contrast, 10.4% of feature-phone owners use a tablet, according to comScore.

Looking at demographics, comScore found a close resemblance between tablet and smartphone owners in terms of gender. Females are slightly more likely to own a tablet than males. Looking at age, comScore found that tablet users tend to be older than smartphone owners.

The highest overall audience concentration for both devices was in the 25-44 age group. Tablet users were 28% more likely to be in the 65 and older age bracket, and 27% less likely to be in the 18-24 age group.

Tablet ownership also skewed towards higher income households, an indication that tablet prices make them a sort of luxury good. Nearly 3-in-5 tablet users lived in households with income of $75,000 or more as compared to 1-in-2 smartphone owners.

ComScore also looked at content consumption. More than half of U.S. tablet users watched video or TV programming compared to just 20% of smartphone owners. Tablet users were also more likely to make a habit of watching online video on their tablets: 18.9% watched at least once a week and 9.5% watched daily, comScore found. Of those watching at least once a month, 26.7% paid for content, “highlighting the tremendous monetization potential this platform represents for content providers.”

In a recently released report, the Yankee Group forecasts that that U.S. tablet sales will exceed PC sales in 2015, reaching more than 134 million.

Image courtesy of flickr user Ben Dodson.

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