The future of the screen

Figures released by Ofcom in their annual Communications Market Report, claim that we are fast becoming a nation of media multi-taskers.  Whilst the living room continues to be the centre of our TV lives, the report highlights that digital media is vying for our attention.

According to the report, 53% of UK adults are now media multi-tasking while watching TV on a weekly basis.  The rapid growth of smartphone and tablet users has facilitated this shift and is likely to continue to do so as our appetite for online content and technology adoption increases.

Findings from OMD’s Future of Britain study of 2,000 nationally representative respondents found that almost 70% of under-35s currently own a smartphone and almost 1-in-3 own a tablet device, suggesting that it is this audience who are vying to be the future media multi-taskers.

However, this ‘media multi-tasking’ is nothing new to us as, according to IPA TouchPoints: 24% of us watch TV and read a newspaper, whilst just over 1-in-5 watch TV and listen to the radio.

Ofcom go on to report that 25% of us are now regularly ‘media-meshing’ e.g. doing other activities or communicating via other devices which are related to the programme we are watching on TV.

But for those of us who have no interest in ‘media-meshing’ during The Antiques Roadshow, we can always partake in a bit of ‘media-stacking’ – using technology for completely unrelated activities whilst also watching TV.  According to Ofcom, 49% of us regularly do this.

Whilst no one can deny the growth and importance of dual screening we must remember that is doesn’t dominate our screen time, as according to IPA TouchPoints only 5% of our commercial ‘screen time’ is spent dual screening e.g. using the internet and watching commercial TV.

These figures will no doubt increase as our appetite for technology and integrated content grows.  But for the time being dual-screening is simply there to engage and provide richer content-driven experiences with consumers than be viewed as a way of reaching mass audiences.

As our future relationship with the TV becomes ever more integrated, The Future Foundation reports that consumers are increasingly empowered to curate their own viewing timetables and fixed schedules will hence carry less importance.

So as our relationship with the screen changes so will the way we consume the content it offers.


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