It’s time to change the narrative. It’s past time to take note when a major event generates a high level of dual-screening (watching TV, while using a second device).
The news these days would be if a TV program proved so engrossing, people just couldn’t pick up an iPad or smartphone -- so gripping, they couldn’t manage to even type 140 characters.
NBCUniversal top researcher Alan Wurtzel recently called simultaneous consumption “the new normal” when referring to the level of dual-screening that took place during the Summer Olympics, where much of it involved watching video on a handheld device.
So, was the Pew Research Center’s “One in Ten ‘Dual-Screened’ the Presidential Debate” headline Thursday worth, well, a headline?
Actually, the amount for the first presidential debate last week seems a bit low, so maybe the headline should have been “Only One in Ten …”
Dual-screening, of course, is only set to continue growing with young people unable to separate themselves from a smartphone. But the behavior apparently is not just the province of a digital native.
More than a fifth of those (22%) under 40 said they watched the debate while accessing related content online, according to the Pew Research Center’s survey. But 10% in a 40-to-64 demo also said they did so.
NBCU’s Olympics numbers are even more pointed when suggesting dual-screening crosses generations. Using one measure, 53% of 18-to-24 year-olds were so-called “SimViewers,” while the percentage about the same for those 55-plus.
The Pew data came via a survey of about 1,000 adults Oct. 4-7.
When speaking about Olympic consumption patterns, Wurtzel suggested the press might be a little hyper in portraying social media use as so expansive.
Still, Pew reports 5% of those viewing the debate live offered commentary online. Based on Nielsen’s estimate of 67.2 viewers, that would be about 3.4 million.
Is that a modest amount? It's well over the population of Iowa, a state both Obama and Romney are fighting hard to win.