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Multitasking sports fans engage with ads

Fans of sports media are multitaskers, meaning they do other things while viewing sporting events. However, that doesn’t mean they miss the commercials.

According to a new study by Solutions Research Group, American sports fans aged 12 to 34 are a busy group. While watching the NBA Finals, 72 percent talked with someone on the phone or communicated via e-mail, text messaging or instant messaging. Within the same age group, 66 percent communicated with others while watching the NCAA championship game.

The Canadian media research firm interviewed nearly 1000 sports fans who watched one of the finals of three recent major sporting events between April and June 2007, including the NCAA final championship game, the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament, and the fourth and final NBA championship game.

Those using the Internet or a mobile device during the championship game were connecting with 3.1 people on average. Some 70 percent connected with friends, co-workers, boyfriends or girlfriends, while 40 percent communicated with family members. The topic of conversations centered on predictions about who would win, team performances, scores, specific players or big plays, the research found.

For advertisers worried about their commercials being missed, there was encouraging news. Research determined that 36 percent of all viewers said that they discussed or mentioned at least one of the commercials aired during the game as they were texting or messaging.

Researchers asked viewers to mention any ads they remembered seeing the day after the broadcast on an open-ended, unaided basis. Among those who connected with others via instant messaging, texting or cellular phone during the game, 60 percent were able to name at least one specific ad, compared to 46 percent among those who were not engaged in these activities.

Among viewers under 35 who were instant messaging or texting, the research found a “remarkable” 78 percent were able to mention at least one ad they had seen on an unaided basis.

Among those 12-34 watching the NBA or NCAA, two-in-three connected with a friend or family member via the Internet or a mobile device throughout the game. Those 35 and older were three times more likely to watch a final game on their own and without connecting via technology compared to those under 35, the survey found.

Though multitasking while watching TV is typically associated with distraction and a lack of focus, Solutions Research concluded that connected viewing via the Internet or a mobile device fueled greater engagement not just with the event but also with advertising messages contained within that event.