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Multiscreening Is Not All About TV in the UK

Around one-third of UK smartphone owners multiscreen with non-TV devices

Multiscreening, or dividing attention between more than one screen, is an established phenomenon amongst consumers, and it’s often considered to be the use of a laptop or smart mobile device while watching TV. Switching between screens is already a distraction for TV watchers, but research from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK indicated that around one-third of multiscreening among UK smartphone owners did not involve the TV at all.

Of the 34% of multiscreening that did not involve the TV, more than half took place between a smartphone and laptop, although this dropped significantly for those 55 and older. Over one-quarter of respondents used a desktop computer while using their smartphone; this was higher for males, at 33%. One-fifth of non-TV multiscreening took place between a smartphone and tablet, which increased to one-quarter amongst parents. With internet TV now becoming more and more prevalent, and video driving ad revenues for digital publishers, users may be watching TV on their laptop, desktop or tablet and then second screening with a smartphone.

Still, the most popular “connected” device to use simultaneously with TV is neither the smartphone nor the tablet, but the laptop. Deloitte research released in September 2013 suggested that more than nine in 10 UK internet users used a laptop at least weekly while watching TV, compared with 89% and 83% who used a smartphone or tablet, respectively. For daily users, the laptop was still the leader, with nearly six in 10 using such a device as they viewed TV each day.

There could be a number of reasons for this—trust in particular devices, for example, with laptops perceived as more trustworthy. It could also be that despite the relative ease of mobile device use, laptops still win out in this category. And in the end, it could be a combination of these factors.

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