TiVo Survey: Multitasking Is Taking Over Our TV Viewing Experience

 In Audience Research

TiVo® Research’s Multitasking and Social Media TV Survey returns for its third year to drop knowledge on us about our multitasking habits.

It’s a good thing our TVs have yet to develop an AI capable of having hurt feelings. Otherwise, 99 percent of us would be breaking our TVs’ hearts with all the multitasking sins we commit. Worse yet, 53 percent of us shamelessly multitask almost every time we turn on the telly – and with another device, no less, be it a smartphone, laptop or tablet. For shame, human race, for shame.

In our defense, we devote 26 percent of our TV-watching to quality one-on-one time with our TVs. Also, our TVs have the biggest slice of our Attention Span pie at 47 percent of our time, while those other devices fight for our attention but sit on the sidelines.

Allow me to put those percentages into perspective. For the duration of a 30-minute show, our TVs have our full and undivided attention for the full duration of 7 minutes and 48 seconds. We split our attention for 14 minutes and 6 seconds. For the other 21 minutes and 54 seconds, our attention is pretty much gone.

So what is so important for which we forsake our attention span’s sacred relationship with the TV screen? Here’s a mugshot line of our top culprits:

iStock_000006197487_Large1 (1)

  1. Eating (76 percent): TV dinners, need I say more?
  2. Sending text messages (69 percent) Keeping the bae happy while you catch up on your guilty pleasures – wise choice.
  3. Talking on the phone (59 percent): If you talk loudly, talk often and keep talking, the person on the other end won’t even know you’re watching your shows.
  4. Shopping online (51 percent): Goodness forbid you’re shopping for another TV while watching TV – the horror.
  5. Exercising (27 percent): The mental capacity required to multitask between watching TV and doing options #1-4 totally counts as burning calories, totally.

To the other one percent of people who cherish their time with their TVs with much deserved and undivided attention, thank you for giving us humans a good rep on the record. While you lone few are busy saving the world, here is some more multitasking mischief the other 99 percent is up to in the meantime:

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

Methodology: The 2015 TiVo Multitasking and Social TV Survey was conducted online and was completed by 806 people between September 9-12, 2015. All survey participants were over the age of 18, reported watching video in the past month (on any device), and were the primary or shared decision-maker when purchasing electronics in their household. The demographic composition of the survey respondents was consistent with the U.S. in terms of household income and age range. Additional details about this survey and other TiVo research are available from TiVo Research at:  info@tivoresearch.com.


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