Consumers are increasingly multitasking while watching TV, integrating “second screens” into their viewing experience, argues the global management consultancy Accenture, based on results of a new survey.

Multitasking in front of the TV used to be about reading. Now viewers are multitasking with their laptops, phones, and tablets, as well books and newspapers while watching television. Multitasking has grown substantially in the past year across all devices, Accenture finds.

Research Now surveyed 3,501 adults, on behalf of Accenture. The survey was fielded in February and March to a Research Now panel. Survey results were not weighted. The sample is designed to be representative of the national population in each country, except Brazil where the sample is more representative of the urban populations. This is the third annual iteration of this survey. Based on a Researchscape assessment of the questionnaire and methodology, this survey is only slightly likely to be representative of consumers in general: the results should be considered qualitative or directional in nature.

Devices Respondents Use Regularly While Simultaneously Watching TV on a TV Set
 Source: Accenture, n = 3, 


Unfortunately, here Accenture lost me. Fundamentally, I don’t believe that reading a book or newspaper in front of the TV more than doubled in the past year.

Which led me to investigate what changed, from the standpoint of survey methodology? Downloading the 2012 study I learned that:
  • In 2012, the sample also included other countries omitted from 2013: Argentina and Germany, so with the overall total, we’re comparing apples to naranjas
  • In 2012, the fieldwork was by “an external agency” but in 2013 it was by Research Now, meaning the panel provider may have changed, making it harder to compare results year over year
  • Tablet ownership has increased, but it’s off the board at 44% in 2013, ahead of smart phone ownership in these countries
  • Results weren’t weighted for either year, making each survey more susceptible to shifts in the demographics surveyed
  • Both years’ results are panel surveys, so we shouldn’t assume they are capable of too much representativeness anyway

Has multitasking while watching TV increased? Most certainly, due to the rise of tablets. But I wouldn’t look to back that assertion up with this research.

For activities unrelated to TV content Searching content on the TV For social media activities about TV program
Computer/laptop 43% 37% 29%
Mobile phone/smartphone 38% 21% 23%
A book/newspaper 28% 17% N/A
Tablet 17% 14% 14%
Game console 13% 7% 7%
Accenture, n= 3501

For more information on this study, refer to Video Over Internet Consumer Survey.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.