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Using a second screen while watching TV encourages more TV viewing and gives people more exposure to TV ads and a greater opportunity to respond to them, a new study has revealed. On average, when only one person was in the room and was multi-screening, 64% of their TV viewing sessions lasted for longer than 15 minutes. This compares to 47% when watching with no accompanying activity. When two people were present, the figures were lower. 41% of viewing sessions were for longer than 15 minutes when multi-screening compared to 37% when watching with no accompanying activity.
The new study, ‘Screen Life: The View from the Sofa’ was carried out for Thinkbox by COG Research to examine the context of multi-screening (watching TV and simultaneously using an Internet-connected device such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet). It examined over 700 hours of TV viewing gathered from filming the living rooms of 23 multi-screening households in the UK for a week. This footage then underwent psycho-physiological analysis to examine actual programme and ad break engagement. This was coupled with self-reporting from the households, a laboratory test to examine ad recognition and online research among 2,000 people with TV and online access.
People in the sample were more likely to stay in the room or not change the channel during the ad break if they were multi-screening. Multi-screening viewers stayed in the room for 81% of ad breaks whereas viewers not multi-screening stayed in the room for 72%. In a laboratory test where participants were invited to watch TV and/or use a laptop, without being made aware they were going to be tested about TV ad recognition, there was no significant difference in the level of ad recognition between people when they multi-screening or simply watching TV.
Participants in the Screen Life research reported that multi-screening, like other new TV technologies such as digital recorders, makes them feel closer to TV as it enables them to research what they watch, share with online friends and participate. Multi-screening also appears to encourage more shared and family TV viewing. Interviews with study households showed that partners and children are more likely to keep a TV viewer company if they can multi-screen, whereas previously they might have not stayed in the room.
Neil Mortensen, Thinkbox’s Research and Planning Director, concludes: “Multi-screening is a huge benefit and opportunity for TV advertisers. It encourages people to watch more TV and more ad breaks and does not adversely affect ad recognition, and viewers now have the ability to act on what they see immediately. We have always multi-tasked in front of the TV but two-screening is an incredibly complementary accompaniment.”