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Multiscreen use boosts TV viewing time, exposes people to more TV commercials, says UK study

Second screen use encourages people to watch more television and exposes people to more television ads, according to the results of a study released June 28 in London.

The study, "Screen Life: The View from the Sofa," conducted for UK commercial TV marketing group Thinkbox by COG Research, found that multiscreen viewers were more likely to stay in the TV room and sit through commercial breaks. Multiscreen viewers stayed put for 81 percent of commercial breaks, while nonmultiscreen viewers stayed in the room for 72 percent of ad breaks.

The research sought to identify how multiscreen viewers watch TV and interact with what they see on TV. "We've always multitasked in front of the TV, but two-screening is an incredibly complementary accompaniment," said Neil Mortensen, Thinkbox research and planning director.

According to the research, multiscreening increased viewing time. When one person was in a room and multiscreening, 64 percent of TV viewing sessions lasted longer than 15 minutes, which compares to 47 percent that lasted longer than 15 minutes when no second screen was used.

Adding another viewer to the room, 41 percent of viewing sessions lasted longer than 15 minutes when multiscreening versus 37 percent that lasted longer than 15 minutes with no accompanying activity.

The research appears to allay concerns by some that multiscreening may pull viewer attention away from commercials and reduce ad recognition. The researchers found that test participants who were invited to watch TV and use a laptop — and were unaware they were being tested on TV ad recognition — showed no significant difference in the ad recognition between people when multiscreening or only watching TV.

To conduct the study, researchers looked at more than 700 hours of footage shot of people in their living rooms watching TV. For the study, 23 UK households that use multiple screens were examined for one week. A psycho-physiological analysis of the footage was performed to look at how viewers engaged with programs and commercials. COG used this technique in conjunction with its digital ethnography technique, a lab test to examine ad recognition and online research of 2000 people with TV and online access.