Sports TV Viewers Multitask – Connect with Peers and Engage with Ads

September 6, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Media & Entertainment | Television | Youth & Gen X

American sports fans are doing a lot more than just sitting back and watching the big game on TV – they’re simultaneously connected with others and more engaged with advertising, according to the results of a study by Solutions Research Group (SRG).

The company interviewed nearly 1,000 sports fans who watched one of the finals of three recent major sporting events between April and June 2007: the NCAA final championship game, the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament and the 4th and final NBA championship game.

Among the key findings of the study:

  • Sports TV viewing is connected viewing:
    • Among viewers of the NBA final, 58% were instant messaging, emailing, texting or talking on the phone as they watched the game.
    • Among viewers 12-34, 72% were engaged in one of those activities.
    • The results were similar for the NCAA final game??”66% of 12-34 viewers were connecting with someone via the internet or a phone??”texting or talking??”as they were watching.
    • 36% of all viewers said they discussed or mentioned at least one of the commercials aired during the game as they were texting or messaging.
    • Those using the internet or a mobile device during the game were connecting with 3.1 people, on average.
    • 70% connected with friends, co-workers, boyfriends or girlfriends; 40% referred to family members.
    • Conversations centered around predictions about who would win, team performances, scores, specific players or big plays.

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  • Connected viewers show higher levels of ad recall and engagement with advertising:
    • Viewers were asked to mention any ads they remembered seeing the day after the broadcast (on an open-ended, unaided basis). Among those who connected with others via instant messaging, texting or cellular phone during the game, 60% were able to name at least one specific ad, compared with 46% among those who were not engaged in these activities.
    • Among viewers under 35 who were instant messaging or texting, a remarkable 78% were able to mention at least one ad they had seen on an unaided basis.
  • For young viewers, watching TV alone is a thing of the past:
    • Among those 12-34 watching the NBA or NCAA final on their own, two-in-three were connecting with a friend or family member via the internet or a mobile device throughout the game.
    • Those 35 and older were three times more likely than those under 35 to watch a final game on their own and without connecting via technology.

Multitasking while watching TV is typically associated with distraction and a lack of focus, but this research suggests that connected viewing via the internet or a mobile device in fact fuels greater engagement not just with the event but also with advertising messages contained within that event – and connected viewing is now the norm among young audiences – SRG said.

For advertisers, programs that integrate mobile and broadband can be particularly effective ways of increasing frequency of message – and there are also opportunities in becoming “facilitators” of conversations during big sports TV events, according to SRG.

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