70% of Streaming TV Viewing in Primetime Involves Other Activities –- Same as for Live TV, DVR Watching


GfK study shows multitasking with primetime TV is more common among women and for unplanned viewing

Advertisers trying to capture the attention of today’s distracted consumers might think that streaming and on-demand platforms – which give viewers greater control over what they watch – might lead to higher levels of engagement. But new GfK research during primetime reveals a remarkable uniformity of multitasking levels across all of today’s major TV platforms.

The study, How People Use® Media: Primetime TV 2015, explored TV set use in each hour of primetime; it shows that the proportion of primetime TV viewing segments that also include other activities is essentially the same for traditional live (linear) TV (69%), DVR recordings (70%), and online streaming through a TV (71%).

To download an infographic from this study, click here

GfK has been tracking reports of “other activities” during the first hour of primetime in four studies going back to 2004; multitasking levels have remained stable during that hour, from 75% in 2004 to 77% this year.

In the latest research, GfK did find several factors associated with higher levels of multitasking with primetime TV:

  • Men are more likely to report other activities than women (74% versus 64%).
  • Young adults (ages 18 to 34) also multitask more in primetime – 73%, compared to 66% each for viewers in the 35-to-49 and 50-to-64 groups.
  • Unplanned viewing segments include more potential distractions – 75% have other activities, versus 64% for “appointment” viewing.

Unplanned viewing segments include more potential distractions – 75% have other activities, versus 64% for “appointment” viewing.

“Although multitasking while using a TV set has been common for many years, the digital ‘second screen’ is now a way of life for many consumers,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President of GfK’s Media & Entertainment team. “Increased purposeful viewing provides opportunities for tapping into deeper engagement among key audiences and in certain contexts. But advertisers and agencies also need to keep experimenting with the ways to make the most of ‘TV plus’ activities, reaching their most important customers on more than one screen through creativity and highly motivating messages.”

The most common specific other activity with primetime TV is talking with others -- whether in person or on a phone -- which is reported by an average of 24% of viewers across primetime. Internet use is another popular activity across all three hours of primetime (an average of 29%, including all types of digital activity), while eating/snacking is a sizable factor in the first hour of primetime (30% of viewers) but falls off by the third hour (12%). Overall the study listed 22 types of other activities.

As the latest in four waves since 2004, How People Use® Media: Primetime TV 2015 shows changes in primetime TV usage over that period. The report looks at how people perceive their “typical” television behavior as well as their actual viewing behavior, by detailing their use of TV sets during primetime yesterday; the study also explores trends in attitudes towards primetime advertising.


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