TV Viewers Watch Commercials

May 12, 2010

TV viewers tend to stay in the room and keep watching when a commercial airs, according to a study from the Council for Research Excellence.

The Video Consumer Mapping (VCM) study sponsored by the Council for Research Excellence indicates that TV advertising and program promotions reach 85% of adults daily. Viewers typically see 26 advertising or promotional breaks, at an average of two minutes and 46 seconds per break, accounting for 73 minutes each day.

Channel Changing Remains Consistent
The frequency of channel-changing and /or changing rooms is very similar in the few minutes before a commercial break, during the commercial break and in the few minutes after the commercial break.


According to the study, 11% of viewers change channels during the four minutes of TV programming before the commercial break; only 14% change channels during commercials; and 13% change channels in the four-minute period after programming returns. In other words, 86% of viewers remain with live TV during commercials.

A similar pattern emerges with room changes: 19% change rooms in the four minutes before a commercial break; 20% during; and 21% in the four minutes after programming returns.


Multi-tasking Also Remains Consistent
Similarly, viewers do not increase or adjust their “multi-tasking” habits during commercial breaks. Fully 55% of viewers were found to be engaged solely with media, led largely by live TV viewing, during the two minutes of TV programming prior to commercial breaks, with the number actually growing to 56% following onset of a commercial.

Multi-tasking was found to accompany about 45% of all media use. Concurrent activities are led by “care of another,” at 12% in the two minutes prior to and during commercial breaks; and “meal preparation,” at 8% in both cases. Some of these activities do not necessarily preclude simultaneous attention being paid to media.

Simultaneous TV/Web Viewing Jumps
More people spent more time simultaneously viewing the internet and TV in December 2009 than in June 2009 or December 2008, according to the Three Screens Report from The Nielsen Company.

However, TV usage appears to be spilling into time spent on the internet, rather than vice versa. Panelists spent an average of 34% of their internet time also watching TV in December 2009, compared to 27.9% in June 2009 and 29.9% in December 2008. On a year-over-year basis, the amount of internet time panelists spent watching TV rose 13.9%.

In contrast, panelists only spent 3.1% of their December 2009 watching TV time also using the internet, compared to 2.7% in June 2009 and 2.4% in December 2008. Despite the much smaller percentages, it is worth noting that the TV-watching time spent also using the internet grew at a much higher annual rate of 29.7%, more than double the growth rate of internet time spent also watching TV.

About the Data: The VCM study, conducted throughout 2008 by researchers from Ball State University and Sequent Partners, generated in-person, computer-assisted data covering more than three-quarters of a million minutes or a total of 752 observed days, of the media consumption habits of 376 adults.


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