TV Viewers Multitask; Smartphone Popular for Related Activities

iab-tv-multitasking-may2012.jpg63% of live TV viewers and 66% of DVR TV viewers say they used another device at least once the last time they watched TV, with the most common device used being a computer (53% and 50%, respectively), according to [pdf] a May 2012 report from the Internet Advertising Bureau. 16% of live TV viewers and one-quarter of DVR TV viewers said they used a smartphone to multitask, while tablet use was reported by 9% and 14%, respectively. Despite a computer being the most common device used for multitasking, smartphones users were the most likely to interact with others about TV-related content (45%), ahead of tablet (30%) and computer (21%) users.

Smartphone Users Get Social

iab-tv-multitasking-and-related-content-may2012.jpgIndeed, according to the IAB’s “Screens to the nth,” those using smartphones while watching TV (“smartphone multitaskers”) outpace those using tablets and computers in a number of program-related areas. For instance, they are about twice as likely as tablet multitaskers to text, email, or IM with friends about the show (23% vs. 12%), and more than three times as likely to voice chat with friends about the show (20% vs. 6%). Smartphone multitaskers are also the most likely to social network with both online communities (20%) and friends (15%) about the show.

According to May 2012 survey results from Horowitz Associates, 6% of TV viewers with internet access at least occasionally interact about a show on social media in real time, rising to 8% among 18-34-year-olds.

Smartphone Owners Also More Apt to Talk About Ads

Data from the IAB report indicates that smartphone multitaskers aren’t only more likely to talk about a show they’re watching, they’re also far more likely to perform a social activity related to an ad they’ve seen. In fact, 37% report having done something related to an ad, roughly double the proportion of tablet (16%) and computer (18%) multitaskers who have done so.

The most common ad-related activity for smartphone multitaskers is texting, emailing, or instant messaging with friends about ads (22%), followed by social networking with online communities about ads (16%), voice chatting with friends about ads, and social networking with friends about ads (both at 13%). Tablet multitaskers are most likely to social network with friends (9%) about ads, while computer multitaskers are most likely to social network with online communities (10%).

Other Findings:

  • Tablets multitaskers (34%) are slightly more likely than smartphone multitaskers (32%) to find out more about TV content and participate with something on the show.
  • Movies (36%), news (32%), and drama (30%) are the most popular genres for smartphone multitaskers to talk about. For tablet multitaskers, news and reality (28%) are most popular, while for computer multitaskers, news (27%) has the edge over drama and reality (both at 23%).
  • Roughly one-third of multitaskers play games or quizzes related or linked to TV shows, rising to 53% among device users aged under 25.
  • Computer users (93%) are more likely than tablet (88%) and smartphone (83%) users to engage in activities unrelated to the TV content they are watching. This means that more multitaskers across all devices engage in unrelated activities than do in related activities.
  • The most common unrelated tasks performed by these device users are emailing and generally surfing the internet, although roughly one-third also use Facebook or another social network. According to a separate IAB study [pdf] released in May 2012, 32% of 2-screen owners (TV and computer) use social media while watching TV, rising to 49% among 3-screen owners (TV, computer, and smartphone), and 64% among 4-screen owners (TV, computer, smartphone, and tablet).

About the Data: The IAB “Screens to the nth” study is based on data collected and analyzed by Ipsos MediaCT in partnership with the IAB. The study used a combination of sources including LMX, a single-source, 2-wave media diary of 7500 consumers examining device ownership and when, where, and how new and traditional media is consumed, along with HearWatchSay, Ipsos and IAB’s online community of 5000 media-savvy individuals.

The other IAB study was conducted by Econsultancy on behalf of the IAB. It was fielded online on April 19, 2012 to a Survey Sampling panel comprised of US consumers ages 18 and over. Tablet owners were over-sampled to ensure sufficient data for that audience. The survey closed on April 25, 2012 with 1,851 qualified responses.