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Mobile takes screen time from TV, but consumers pay more for cable

Average U.S. consumer pays 64 cents per hour of entertainment on cable TV compared to 11 cents on mobile games

Mobile apps may be taking screen time from television, but consumers are still paying much more for TV.

The average American consumer pays 64 cents per hour of entertainment on cable TV, compared with 11 cents on mobile games, analytics firm Flurry reported in a study released Friday. That means Americans are paying about 5.8 times more for one hour of cable. That number was about the same last year.

Although the average consumer paid only one-half cent more on mobile gaming between 2013 and 2014, time and money spent on mobile gaming is on the rise, Flurry’s chief executive, Simon Khalaf, said in the study. The market is expected to grow to about $4.2 billion this year from $3 billion last year, he said.

The number of mobile gamers in the U.S. is also on the rise, up from 94 million in 2013 to 108 million in 2014, the study shows. The time consumers spent playing mobile games increased 12% this year, from about 50 minutes in 2013 to nearly 56 minutes in 2014.

Although consumer dollars are slow to shift from television to apps, the increase in mobile gamers signals an opportunity for developers. App content -- games, media and music -- will likely command a higher price as they improve, Khalaf said.

“The good news for the mobile app industry is that, unlike the desktop Web, consumers are already paying for content, mostly in the form of in-app purchases and subscriptions,” he said.  “And compared to cable television rates, there is room to grow.”

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