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As the media landscape continues to fragment and people watch video across more devices, there’s a tendency to think of TV viewing as having lost its standing as a campfire experience. But a new study from the IAB [pdf] calls that into question, finding that virtually all video viewers have watched content with others.

Based on a survey of more than 1,220 video viewers ages 13-64, the IAB found that 94% do some co-viewing on a screen of some sort during the typical week.

Co-viewing is most common on TVs, with 93% having watched video content with friends and/or family members on a TV screen. The content source doesn’t seem to have an impact: at least 9 in 10 have co-viewed when watching on-demand, OTT (93%) and linear TV (96%) on a TV screen.

Nonetheless, video viewers are most likely to watch linear TV (72%) with others on a weekly basis. Fewer than half co-view OTT (47%), video-on-demand (34%) and DVR’d content (31%) with that frequency.

Given that the TV screen is the dominant one for video viewing – including an increasing amount of TV Everywhere and premium digital video – co-viewing should be here to stay. (One recent study argued that virtual reality viewing could also “reignite the campfire experience of TV.”)

Co-viewing, meanwhile, also occurs on digital devices: roughly half of the survey’s respondents, for example, reported having co-viewed content on a smartphone – though presumably that’s not long-form content…

Separately, a YuMe study of family households with connected TVs also finds that they typically watch programming together as a family.

An Opportunity For Brands?

Advertisers will be happy to hear that co-viewers seem comfortable discussing the products and brands they see when watching video with others. This seems to be the case especially when co-viewing OTT rather than live TV, with many claiming to be more likely to talk about the products and brands they see and change minds (theirs or someone else’s) about a brand.

The increased likelihood of engaging in such brand-related actions when co-viewing OTT rather than linear TV may be related to viewers’ attention. While 34% professed to paying most or all of their attention to ads when co-viewing on live TV, that figure jumped to 43% among those co-viewing on OTT.

Quick Facts About Co-Viewing

  • Men, Millennials, Hispanics, and parents with kids in the household over-index in OTT co-viewing.
  • Video viewers most commonly co-view with their family, led by spouses and partners and followed by children, parents and siblings. Fewer than one-fifth co-view with roommates and friends. Co-viewing incidence with children is higher for the OTT than linear TV platform.
  • Co-viewers generally watch with 2 other people in a given week and consider it more fun than watching alone.
  • Co-viewers on OTT and linear TV are most apt to watch movies together, though the choice of content is dependent on who the companion is. Co-viewing of children’s content and animation is higher on OTT than on linear TV, consistent with higher co-viewing with kids on that platform.

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