Are iOS apps more popular than 'American Idol'?

A new study from Flurry Analytics claims that more people spend time playing iOS games than watching some of television's top shows. Is the comparison even a decent one?

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
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Games running on Apple's iOS are starting to match prime-time television shows in overall consumption, a new study from Flurry Analytics claims.

According to the research company, 19 million people currently spend an average of 22 minutes each day playing iOS games, or accessing social networks on their iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. That total number of users easily eclipses viewership of Sunday Night Football games, "Undercover Boss," and other top shows. It's also just 4 million viewers shy of top show "American Idol."

That said, Flurry's numbers could be quite low, compared to the real number of people using iOS apps each day. The company said its analytics tool is running on just 20 percent of the 250,000 applications currently available in Apple's App Store. The company also said its analysis for this study focused only on games and social-networking apps, which means that overall usage of all the apps in the store could be much higher.

Comparing a television show and an iOS application can also be difficult. They exist in much different spaces. And they deliver much different experiences. It's also worth noting that no single game can even come close to matching the viewership of the top television shows. Flurry's figures are a grand total of all the apps it monitors.

But Flurry's study is important--it's a proof of concept for advertisers. The company noted in a blog post announcing its findings that "these applications' reach takes place every day, 365 days a year." The company went on to say a single television show might air only 22 times per year, which means that "advertisers can reach a larger consumer audience through applications 15 times more frequently."

It indeed looks as if advertisers are starting to see more value in mobile apps. A recent IDC study found that mobile advertising will reach $500 million this year. In 2009, that figure was estimated at $250 million.