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TV, Cable Companies Get in the Mobile Game

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Smaller screens—like the ones on mobile devices—may have a bigger presence than televisions in many modern households, but that doesn't mean doom and gloom for cable networks and providers, according to recent video viewing trend data.

"A lot of users now are starting to shift their patterns from TV to mobile devices, in particular, tablets," said Sean Knapp, co-founder and chief product officer at Ooyala, a company that gathers data from broadcasters, networks and studios. But many video viewers are actually looking for the same content online and on their mobile devices that they'd seek on a traditional televisions, Ooyala said.

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Cable providers aren't quite being crowded out of the video-viewing market by the likes of Hulu and Netflix (NFLX), either. Comcast (CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (TWX) and DirecTV (DTV) all offer mobile apps with live TV and on-demand content. (Comcast is the parent company of NBC Universal and CNBC.)

Television manufacturers in the tablet game are also hedging themselves against the draw of smaller screens, said Ooyala, which gathers data on 200 million unique video viewers per month.

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LG and Samsung "have large divisions manufacturing tablets that are actually helping to capture that same user base with actually a very different purchase cycle," Knapp added.

Consumers tend to buy new televisions every five to seven years, but they buy new tablets every year or two, according to Ooyala.

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Based on the company's data, which is just a slice of the overall market for video content, mobile and tablet video viewing accounts for more than 10 percent of all online video plays, and the company expects that figure to double by the end of this year.

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