Smartphone Is Now the Screen of Choice for Israel’s Couch Potatoes

Among Israelis age 18-34, a mere 10% reported they want television on a regular basis while 75% said they downloaded videos to their smartphones.

An ultra-Orthodox man with a smartphone.
Olivier Fitoussi

The small screen has been replaced by the even smaller screen as Israelis’ chief form of entertainment, a survey on Internet usage released by Bezeq showed on Wednesday.

Among Israelis age 18-34, a mere 10% reported they want television on a regular basis while 75% said they downloaded videos to their smartphones. Among older Israelis the gap was narrower but still pronounced, with 42% of people age 34-54 saying the watched videos on their smartphones versus 24% who said they were regular TV viewers.

And that is just smartphones. If you count people who download videos to their PCs, too, the rate rose to 82% for young people and 74% for the older age group. Among the 6.4 million Israelis with access to the Internet the number who said they download content – video first and foremost – jumped 38% last year. The average Israeli now downloads 4.4 gigabits daily, according to Bezeq.

And to add insult to TV’s injury, when Israelis do watch television, they are more likely than not to be doing something with smartphones – 6% of young people said they played games and 44% of adults said they talked on the phone.

They are particularly active on their smartphones for live events, the survey found.

“It’s the end of the era for live television,” said Gil Rozen, vice president for marketing and innovation at Bezeq.

“News and reality TV, because they are live content, people are watching them more on [smartphone] screens. Also the era of looking at a single source of content is over. While people are watching, they are checking things about what they saw on television and discussing them with friends on chat applications. Our lives are now built on several levels of listening,” he said.

Despite the frenzy of video-viewing, the Bezeq figures showed that social networks remained even more widely used, with Facebook and its WhatsApp subsidiary by far the most popular platform. Among people 18 and older, 87% reported using Facebook, while among youths the rate was 75% Whatsapp was used by about 90% of both age groups.

After that, usage fell sharply – to just 30% among adults for Instagram, 18% for LinkedIn and 10% for Snapchat.