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Latest issue with Nielsen’s TV numbers: Distractions via MediaLife (source: interview with Turner Broadcasting CRO Howard Shimmel)

Distracted viewing is a topic of fervent discussion among media people, who worry over whether their clients’ ads are being seen by viewers who are texting on their phones, checking Facebook on their tablets, and live-tweeting shows, all while simultaneously watching television. A recent study by Nielsen Consumer Neuro, commissioned by the Council for Research Excellence, examined the impact of second-screen distractions on engagement with TV.

The following is a Q&A of an interview with Howard Shimmel, CRO of Turner Broadcasting:

  1. What did you find most surprising or interesting about this study?
  2. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s surprising, but the study did confirm what we suspected in how people watch TV in a multi-screen setting. Consumers tend to have multiple changes in status–from eyes on a traditional television to eyes on their second screen device to talking to a co-viewer within a minute or a few minutes.

We’ve known that this behavior exists, but to my knowledge this is the first time we’ve measured it based on observation, not surveys, by measuring it in a live lab setting. The next phase of the study will be fielded in the home.

  1. How else are second screens impacting TV viewing?
  2. The CRE study reinforced findings that are generally well known throughout the industry, that consumers use second screens to moderate engagement during content and during ads.
  3. What other environmental factors impact how much people are paying attention to primary screens?
  4. The list is rather extensive–who else is in the room, who made the choice on what to watch, importance of show, quality of show, time of day and other activities taking place while viewing.

Access full report from MediaLife