Real TV Multitasking Consequences: Productivity Suffers?

Most nights you can find TV Watch icing various body parts for sports/fitness injuries while watching TV. Does that count as multitasking?

And while driving, one might also be listening to the radio and/or drinking iced coffee. Does that count as multitasking as well? And if so, what value can we give to that?

And how to make sense of a headline like “TiVo: 99% Multitask While Watching TV”? Sounds like a big number -- and what exactly is that other 1% doing, anyway? Maybe you would need to read between the lines. Perhaps 99% have multitasked at some time while watching TV.

And there’s more. TiVo says, in surveying 806 respondents, that 53% multitask every time they watch TV. (For how long? We are not sure). Only 6% say their activities were TV-related (we assume traditional TV viewing-related).

This is stuff media executives can ponder — and then go back to looking at Facebook news feeds.



Here’s some hopeful news: TiVo said respondents' primary focus -- 73% of the time -- is on the traditional TV screen. And that makes sense. Who wants to admit they are really distracted?

For the most part, we're talking about recreation/entertainment time.  But multitasking happens all day long, including during work hours.

And that brings us to productivity -- which apparently may be hurting the U.S. economy as a whole. Recently released data showed U.S. productivity has slowed in the past year, only increasing 1.6% in the third quarter, down from 3.5% in the second quarter. A blip, you say.

According to analysts, we are actually in a slump. After a decade of higher levels productivity, from 1995 to 2005 (attributed to improved computer software and and high-tech products) now “productivity growth has slowed significantly,” says U.S. News and World Report.

Hmm... Too many screens, too little time? Maybe too much  inflammation, as in the case of my sore shoulders and quads.

4 comments about "Real TV Multitasking Consequences: Productivity Suffers?".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 10, 2015 at 11:15 a.m.

    Yes, the good news is that most of the time the viewers are focused on the TV content screen. But the bad news is that commercials chase their eyeballs to the second screen. When TV was the only screen, it didn't matter much if viewers' eyes wandered. When the other screen has engaging social media content (or anything except advertising), it matters to advertisers. What's more engaging: An ad you never wanted to watch or your friends posting messages on their Facebook wall? The actual content of the show surely gets the audience to look back at the TV screen, but this is of little value to the ad messages the viewers avoid, even in live shows.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 10, 2015 at 1:09 p.m.

    True, Douglas, a higher percentage of viewers avoid commercials in contrast to content. However, as many studies have shown---including camera and spy studies ---a fairly high percentage of viewers are, nonetheless, reached by commercials. Otherwise, how do you explain the finding in all of Nielsen's recent Brand Effect studies that 40-45% of program viewers can recall the average TV ad? To demonstrate that they have seen the ads, respondents must play a quiz-like game in which they are given descriptions of the commercials' content ---all but one being false----and asked to pick the right one. In my upcoming book, "TV Now and Then" as well as "TV Dimensions 2016", now being prepared, we go through much of the relevant research on this and many other subjects regarding TV. Why don't you get your library to subscribe---at our low college rate---and check out some of the research?You will find it very interesting?

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, November 10, 2015 at 4:19 p.m.

    All good questions Wayne.

    Maybe they included 'breathing' as multi-tasking and the other 1% ticked the "Don't Know" box.

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 10, 2015 at 6:11 p.m.

    This multitasking business keeps coming up again and again, with all sorts of not very useful research to confuse the issue. A 2012 study by The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement ( CIMM ) took a more realistic approach for quantifying multitasking involving TV, PC  and mobilephone activity. The data came from 500 former Arbitron PPM panelists whose PPMs were reactivated. The electronic findings were that simultaneous PC usage ocurred only 11% of the time a TV set was in use and mobile phone activity was virtually zero. Now things may have changed, especially where mobile is concerned, but I doubt that a current version of the same study, relying on meter-style measurementrs, not peoples' answers to vague questions, would show a gigantic increase in second by second multitasking for the three media included in the CIMM study.

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