TV Multitasking Continues to Grow

October 23, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Mobile Phone | Social Media | Social TV & Multi-Screening | Tablet | Television | TV Audiences & Consumption

TiVo-Share-TV-Viewing-Time-Spent-Multitasking-Oct2014Some 51% of TV viewers multitask every time or almost every time they watch TV, up from 36% last year, reports TiVo in its second annual study of multitasking and social TV. Even so, viewers are keeping the TV screen the center of their attention: an estimated 47% of their TV time is spent with their primary focus on the TV show even while multitasking, up from 39% last year. Interestingly, the estimated amount of TV time spent multitasking with the focus on something else has remained flat at 26%. Instead, there has been a drop in the estimated amount of TV time spent only watching TV (without multitasking), from 35% to 27%. In other words, while more time is being spent multitasking, all of that time is being spent with the TV as the primary focus.

While that may be the case, TV isn’t extending its reach to viewers’ multitasking activities. Just 5% of respondents – who were required to watch at least 7 hours of TV per week on any device – reported engaging in TV-related multitasking every time or almost every time they watch TV. That compares with 50% who never or almost never engage in TV-related activities. Instead, the most common activities include browsing the internet (74%), reading or sending email (73%) and text messaging (71%).

The TiVo results largely support conclusions from a Deloitte report released earlier this year, in which a greater proportion of respondents reported frequently multitasking while watching TV, with web browsing, emailing and texting the top activities. However, they run contrary to a report last year from the Multimedia Research Group which had seen TV multitasking trending towards related activities.

The multitasking topic is a hot-button issue as TV marketers are trying to leverage consumers’ increasingly multi-screen behavior. Multi-tasking also raises questions about TV advertising effectiveness, particularly as 56% of the TiVo survey respondents say they multitask every time or almost every time during commercial breaks. To be fair, though, the most popular reported activities during a commercial break are going to the bathroom (85%), getting a drink or a snack (78%) and talking to people in the house (50%) – not considered “multitasking.” In any case, research suggests that multitasking may not be affecting viewers’ engagement with ads, according to data contained in the MarketingCharts report, “TV in Context: Viewing Trends, Ad Spending and Purchase Influence.”

In other interesting highlights from the TiVo survey:

  • Smartphones (78%) and laptops (72%) emerge as the top devices used while watching TV;
  • Almost 6 in 10 respondents report using another device every time or almost every time they watch TV (see here for data about how often they’re looking at their devices during ad breaks);
  • Only about 1 in 5 say they’ve ever posted on social media about the shows they watch, although studies suggest social’s impact on TV is on the rise; and
  • More than 6 in 10 have noticed Twitter hashtags during TV shows, but this group was more apt to dislike (53%) than appreciate (12%) seeing them.

About the Data: To collect data for the 2014 Multitasking and Social TV Survey, TiVo conducted an online survey of 856 people between August 21-26, 2014. All survey participants were over the age of 18 and watched at least seven hours of TV per week on any device. The composition of the survey was consistent with the U.S. in terms of household income and age range.

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