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Multitasking TV Viewers Primarily Focus on the Television

Smartphones are the top device for multiscreening

Devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and portable gaming systems have made it easy for consumers to multitask while watching television. However, a November 2013 study by TiVo found that three-quarters of US TV viewers were more focused on what was on the tube, even when using a second screen.

Smartphones were the No. 1 device respondents used while watching TV, with more than six in 10 saying they had “ever” used a smartphone while watching television and around one-quarter who “almost always” used such a device during the activity. Nearly half of TV viewers had used a laptop while watching TV, but just 11% almost always multiscreened with the device, compared with about one-fifth of viewers who almost always used a tablet.

Searching the internet for information was the most common activity conducted while watching TV, cited by more than one-quarter of TV viewers. No other activity came close to this level of usage; just 7% or fewer respondents said they used social media to learn more about an episode as they viewed it. Usage immediately after a program remained relatively low for all activities, but skyrocketed as the week went on. One possible reason for this? Avoiding spoilers.

But not all second screening while watching TV actually revolves around what’s on the television. Research by Multimedia Research Group found that multitasking unrelated to TV among US smartphone/tablet users while watching a show jumped from 30% to 39% between Q1 2013 and Q3 2013, compared with 16% to 21% for TV-related multitasking. However, multitasking had risen overall during the period, with nonmultitaskers falling from 48% of respondents in Q1 2013 to 40% in Q3 2013.

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