Three years ago, Stanford Communications Professor Emeritus Donald F. Roberts believed that American youth had hit a ceiling on media use, as there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to increase the amount of time children were spending on media. He was astounded to see that time spent on media consumption did in fact grow, as young individuals began consuming heavily across multiple devices at the same time. And the numbers have continued to increase since: More than 80% of US online consumers ages 12 to 17 multitask online while watching TV.
Multitasking behavior among this demographic has changed not only in terms of the total number of hours but also in terms of the devices used. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that in 2011, young consumers primarily went online via desktop or laptop computers while watching TV, while now they prefer to use more portable devices for multitasking activity:
The proliferation of mobile and portable Internet-connected devices has made TV multitasking the norm. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that about four out of five US online adults who own a laptop, smartphone, or tablet go online regularly while watching TV, but the intensity of interaction differs by device.
My colleague Tracy Stokes wrote about this in a report called “The New Layers Of TV Audience Insight.” Her take: Just because your TV audience is active on social and digital platforms doesn’t mean that they will blindly engage with your brand. To drive cross-media engagement, you have to have a clear call to action that easily conveys why consumers should be active across multiple media channels.
But when you do it right, there’s a lot to gain. Research from Discovery Communications shows that exposure to more digital touchpoints while watching TV can strengthen consumers' connection to content and brands, not detract from it. Discovery's study found that users who multitask with devices while they watch TV are more attentive and responsive to TV programming and advertising than the average viewer.
This week the Superbowl earned with 106.5 million viewers the Number One spot of the most watched program ever in the US, which proofs that online video hasn't killed the TV star yet. (Side note: did you know that until now the 1983 M*A*S*H final held this position?).