Do Two Screens Enhance or Disrupt Viewership?

I recently attended a webinar about the effects of the second screen on TV viewership.  As an avid TV fan I always find myself defending the medium in this new media world and felt this would be an interesting topic to look closer at the research on.  The question they were trying to uncover is if the second screen applications enhanced or distracted from the overall TV viewing experience.  They spoke about the currency of the new economy being “attention” which is an interesting consideration when you think about the magnitude of multi-tasking on our society.

The research study looked at visual attention patterns while watching a drama and a documentary.  Over the course of the two shows they found the same attention patterns with 63% focused on the TV screen, 30% focused on the second screen, and 7% off screen (looking around the room).  They found that if the TV program pushed an interactive action, attention did shift to the tablet however there was not a significant attention shift to the tablet during commercial breaks which I thought would have been high.  That seems encouraging in a world that seems to have shifted to advertising avoidance.  They also found no loss of ad recall during engagement of the tablet.

They are going to further this study with a look at how social media is impacted by TV viewership and the second tablet but they did find that twitter traffic was reduced during commercial breaks and higher during programming content.  It is such an instantaneous media that people are not waiting to tweet their comments.

The Study was conducted by Ball State University for further information on their studies you can go to


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