People are still coming together to watch TV in the living room but using smartphones and tablets at the same time.
Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2013 has revealed that 91% of UK adults view TV on their home’s main set each week, up from 88% in 2002.
However, an increasing array of digital media is now vying for their attention. More than half (53%) regularly multi-task with other media while watching TV. People are streaming videos, firing off instant messages and updating their social media status – all while watching more TV than before.
A quarter of these are regularly media meshing: doing something else but related to what they’re watching on TV. This includes texting (17%) about what they’re watching and using social networks (11%) or ‘apps’ (3%) to communicate directly with programmes.
The impact of media meshing was seen during the 2013 Wimbledon Men’s tennis final, with 1.1 million people worldwide tweeting 2.6 million times using hashtags associated with the tennis final. Of these tweets, around 80% came from mobile devices.
Younger people are most likely to use other media while watching TV (74%) with 44% media meshing.
James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research, said: "Our research shows that increasingly families are gathering in the living room to watch TV just as they were in the 1950s.
"Just a few years ago, we would be talking about last night’s TV at work or at school. Now, we’re having those conversations live while watching TV – using social media, text and instant messaging."
A huge growth in take-up of smartphones and tablets is creating a nation of media multi-taskers, Ofcom research reveals, transforming the traditional living room of our parents and grandparents into a digital media hub.
These activities are mostly carried out using smartphones, with over half of adults (51%) now owning these devices, almost double the proportion two years ago (27%).
At the same time, tablet ownership has more than doubled in the past year, rising from 11% of homes to 24%. The average household now owns more than three types of internet enabled device, with one in five owning six or more.
The growth in ownership of tablets is driving the use of second screens, and enticing people to the main TV room. More than half (56%) of tablet owners use their device for viewing audiovisual content and half of these do so while in the living room.
Furthermore, a fifth of families with a tablet (22%) said they watch different content on different screens while in the same room all or most of the time.