Dual-Screening Becomes Mainstream

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.






3 comments about "Dual-Screening Becomes Mainstream".
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  1. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 11, 2012 at 6:12 p.m.

    The US Population is 314,559,464.
    Your estimate of 3.4 million "dual-screeners' is 1.1% of the nation's population. That's not MAINSTREAM. It's DAYDREAM. Let's all wake up and smell the coffee -- and not the hype. Frankly, it stinks. Surely there is a more constructive way to deal with the evolution of media consumption in the US.

  2. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, October 11, 2012 at 6:20 p.m.

    Neil Postman was right when, back in 1985, he asserted we were amusing ourselves to death. Little did he know.

  3. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 11, 2012 at 6:50 p.m.

    As Postman was commenting on "Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business" your comment proves him right. Cheers.

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