Netflix, game consoles, iPlayer, Youtube. Laptops, smartphones, tablets.


The options for watching your favourite shows are so vast nowadays you would think that fighting over the remote was a domestic war of the past. However, research by Thinkbox suggests  an overriding preference for the old TV box over mobile viewing.  In fact, Ofcom research of 2012 identified a growing trend demonstrating that families are actually returning to the traditional activity of gathering around the TV set for a shared family experience.


Thinkbox announced that mobile devices account for 1.5% of total viewing time.  Just 3.5 minutes a day. Whilst up by 30 seconds from 2012, this is still an unimpressive figure considering that the average viewer watches a total of 3hr 55min of television content a day (I think a few folk need to take up a new hobby). This preference is set to continue with the ever-improving availability of on-demand services on television sets.


Nevertheless, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it’s becoming common practise to partner TV viewing with social media activity. I am, personally, filled with anxiety at the thought of being sat watching telly without my phone (on vibrate) set next to me on the armrest.


So, whilst we prefer to watch television shows on a TV as opposed to a mobile device, we are most satisfied when said mobile device accompanies the viewing, as discussed in TV & Twitter: The power of the second screen’. This article suggests that social media makes TV viewing more engaging, especially focusing on the influence of Twitter. The backing research shows that tweeting whilst watching television even increases the effectiveness of advertisements, with only 8% of Twitter users flicking away during ad breaks, as opposed to 17% in people not logged in. Ad recall increases from 40% to 53% when people are on Twitter too. Impressive bit of multi-tasking there.


So my next question is this – when will the human visual system evolve to allow us to have one eye on the TV and the other on our smartphone screen, simultaneously?


By Angharad Edwards