More Than Multi-Screening: Olympics Viewers Crafting Their Own Personalized Coverage
By any measure, this Olympics is a milestone of multi-screen behaviors and a clear demonstration of the power of mobile video as a second screen for on-demand and live streams. But the Brits are fairly mad about staying locked on their own hosted games wherever they are. International consumer researcher Intersperience reports that 52% of UK viewers of the London 2012 Olympics experienced coverage on multiple media simultaneously, including TV, radio, laptops, smartphones and tablets. In fact that majority of users were following the action on two or more devices at the same time.
While the sample size was a relatively small 250, the levels of multi-screen and multi-mode activity were striking among most of those involved in the research, which involved self-reported usage. Only 10% of viewers were using three or more devices at the same time. But the amount of multitasking was huge. The viewers were using the devices to create their own blend of live action, replayed coverage and post-event interviews.
Clearly the big winner in the second-screen games was social networking. According to the project, many people were accessing the social nets and among them, 45% were directly communicating about the Olympics. In fact, a number of viewers reported being on their phones chatting about the Games while also watching TV and consulting another screen. iPad owners reported using the Facetime feature to communicate with friends and family via video chat while all were watching the events.
Facebook ran away with the social networking gold. Almost all (95%) of participants used the social net to share information about the Games.
In all, laptops still edged out other devices as the second screen of choice for UK viewers. While 46% of participants were using their portable PCs, 31% used smartphones and 14% used tablets.
Perhaps most striking about the research were the novel ways in which people combined technologies. Some people reported holding their Facetime camera to the TV screen to show a friend what they were watching on TV at the time. Others were using multiple screens to stay in touch with a range of different family and friends by phone, tablet or laptop simultaneously. Intersperience CEO Paul Hudson said of the findings: “This research shows that ordinary people are becoming very sophisticated in the way they consume and share information across digital platforms. Digital is now mainstream in the UK --this is a wake-up call for organizations who have not mastered multichannel digital contact.”
It seems to me this is the next great area for research. The act of multitasking is a kind of user-generated media. When people assemble screens in particular ways, they are actively crafting media experiences for themselves that are quite apart from what any of the programmers of any of the independent screens had in mind. For instance, some in this research reported turning the audio on the TV off while streaming other things with audio on for the other screens. People are re-combining social, streaming and even voice and video chat into wholly customized modes of media interactivity. We need to look carefully at these personalized media environments that people are creating to see if there are new patterns of use both programmers and advertisers can enable.
Actually, we at Mediapost are about to find out for ourselves how the UK multiscreen as we bring our five-year-old OMMA Mobile series to London on Sept. 18. “The Next Screen Agenda: Mobile Disrupts The Mix” will convene at 8 Northumberland Center.