Mobile Monday: New Simultaneous Media Usage Estimates

Posted Nov 6, 2017

In this edition of Mobile Monday, we’re diving into the latest eMarketer study on consumer viewing habits to better understand both where attention lies as well as what semantics suggest about how we view modern media consumption behavior.

Simultaneous Media Consumption Growth
According to a new report released by eMarketer, the number of consumers engaging with other media while watching television is continuing to grow. Indeed, nearly 180 million adult consumers in the US alone (about 73% of the adult population) will use their mobile phone, laptop, or tablet while watching television this year, a 5% increase in this behavior compared to 2016.

To further compound the question as to where consumer attention really lies, the report reminds us that consumers aren’t just engaging with two sources of content at once. Indeed, Millennials surveyed were “the most prone to distraction, conducing an average of five activities while watching” television. Centennials and Gen Xers averaged three simultaneous activities while watching television.

Top Simultaneous Behaviors
So what are consumers doing on their devices while they’re watching television? Centennials are most likely texting (50%), and Millennials are most likely on social media (55%). Generation X, meanwhile, is most likely to be browsing the internet (54%).

When consumers aren’t actively messaging one another during a show or generally browsing other content, they are gaming. Indeed, 33% of Centennials, 23% of Millennials, and 18% of Gen Xers play games on a secondary device while watching television.

Distracted vs Simultaneous Viewing
The phrase “distracted viewing” has been tossed around for some time, referring to consumers who are distracted from the primary content they are watching by some secondary content. Inherently, the phrase is rich with connotations, many of which may not be the most accurate.

First, describing viewing as distracted suggests that consumers are unable to provide some measure of adequate attention to two content sources at once. Second, describing media consumption as viewing suggests that the activity is passive and not engaging.

By pivoting the nomenclature used to describe the consumption of multiple sources of media at once, we can paint a better picture of the consumer state of mind. It’s not that the consumers can’t multitask. It’s that content publishers and advertisers must vie for focused attention. It’s not that they are only passive viewers. It’s that active engagement must be sought.

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