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TiVo: 99% multitask while watching TV

According to findings from the Third Annual TiVo Multitasking and Social Media TV Survey from the advanced television entertainment market specialist, out of the 806 respondents surveyed, 99 per cent admitted to multitasking while watching TV, with 53 per cent multitasking every time or almost every time they watch TV. When multitasking, only 6 per cent of respondents reported their activities were TV related. The most common multitasking activities included eating and sending text messages.

This isn’t bad news for TV, though, suggests TiVo, since viewers said they focus primarily or exclusively on the TV screen 73 per cent of the time. Respondents reported primarily paying attention to TV over another device 47 per cent of the time with an additional 26 per cent of time spent only watching TV and not multitasking. These figures are consistent with our 2014 survey results of 47 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.

“In a world where so many devices are battling to divert us, it is heartening to know that the video content on the screen is still commanding the lion’s share of peoples’ attention,” said TiVo Chief Research Officer Jonathan Steuer. “From texts to doorbells to friends and family, distractions abound, but when it is time to watch television, respondents told us viewing was their primary focus.”

Multitasking, Yes – Television-Related Multitasking, No

As pervasive as TV multitasking is, TiVo’s survey found the secondary activity rarely relates to the action on the screen. In fact, only 6 per cent reported that their multitasking activity concerns the TV show every time or almost every time, and 50 per cent reported it is never or almost never related to the TV program they are watching.

When asked what else they do while watching TV, top activities ranged from eating (76 per cent), to shopping online (51 per cent) to exercising (27 per cent). Other top multitasking activities include sending text messages (69 per cent) and talking on the phone (59 per cent).

The Main Vice is a Device

The majority of the multitasking activities involved the use of a second screen: 53 per cent of those surveyed habitually use a device every time or almost every time they watch TV, with smartphones ranking as the top device of choice at 34 per cent. Laptop computers ranked second at 14 per cent, followed closely by tablets at 13 per cent.

Survey respondents reported various reasons for routinely operating the second screen while watching TV, including “this is just how I entertain myself these days” at 56 per cent and “I can’t stop myself from picking up my device” at 41 per cent.

Additional key findings:

  • Sixty-two per cent of respondents report multitasking during commercial breaks every time or almost every time they watch TV.
  • Popular commercial break activities include visiting the restroom at 82 per cent, and getting a drink or snack at 78 per cent.
  • Only 23 per cent report watching the commercials during commercial breaks; down from 29 per cent in the 2014 study.
  • Commercial break activities vary for DVR and non-DVR households:
    • Surfing the Internet – 41 per cent for DVR homes and 53 per cent for non-DVR
    • Checking social media sites – 35 per cent for DVR homes and 43 per cent for non-DVR
    • Fast-forward through commercials – 65 per cent for DVR homes and not applicable for non-DVR homes
  • When asked which content they are more likely to multitask during, 53 per cent of respondents reported live TV, 28 per cent reported time-shifted TV and 19 per cent reported streamed content, e.g. Netflix, Hulu.

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