A new study released today by comScore demonstrates that a television is no longer the only place that consumers are getting their watchable jollies thanks to computers, tablets, and smartphones all capable of delivering your favorite sitcoms and dramas. This incorporation of multiple screens into the consumer experience is reshaping how people develop loyalty to certain brands and how they stay engaged with content and brands simultaneously across different platforms.
That people are using non-televisions to watch traditionally television-delivered things isn't really anything new, and while the new study doesn't indicate any immediate upheaval in the way that brands target consumers, it does reinforce a trend that more people are going online-only when it comes to where people watch shows. More, consumers are increasingly going for the cross-platform, multi-screen experience for their entertainment and, although this might be obvious, the more screens a person has surrounding them, the more engaged and loyal those consumers are to a brand.
The study, which collected information from 10,000 participants in the United States and followed the reach of 10 broadcast network and cable brands, shows that 25% of consumers engaged with a brand via online access and 12% did so through online video. TV is still the screen de jour for most consumers, though, as 90% were TV engagers. What's more is that 11% of consumers were the digital-only types while another 17% were doing the multi-screen dance. A solid 72% however remain committed to their TVs as the sole source of access to a brand.
"Once TV-centric media brands now engage with their consumers across a variety of digital touch-points," said Joan FitzGerald, comScore VP of TV & Cross-Media Solutions. "While this enhances the quality of brand engagement, it also increases the complexity of media planning and analysis by orders of magnitude."
Those consumers who were either multi-screen swingers and sought out online video content of a brand appear to be the most loyal, although that isn't entirely surprising given that most of the time when a consumer goes for a brand online, they're likely doing it more actively than passively, as is the case with television ads.
It's peculiar that digital platforms aren't supplanting TVs but rather just becoming a second media provider that runs alongside TVs. Does anybody ever watch TV nowadays without a tablet or smartphone somewhere within arm's length? These implements for more media are never far from our grasp and nobody wants to choose one over the other: they want to have all the MTV they can handle. The study found that 60% of consumers accessed TV and online content of a brand during concurrent 30-minute intervals. 29% of consumers were dabbling around on Facebook while they watched TV, suggesting that it's no longer enough to simply sit down and watch something. People want to share their invaluable opinions about tonight's episode of 'Law & Order' or complain about the results of 'American's Next Top Model' in real-time, not tomorrow at the office watering hole.
The most unsurprising aspect of this report is reflected in the age demographics of consumers. Overwhelmingly, more people under the age of 34 had made the transition to digital-only engagement but adults over 50 haven't quite made the jump to abandon television altogether. Instead, the over-50 crowd is more likely to go the multi-screen route and to be users of TV and online video.
Consumers of all walks of life want to be able to access content across different mediums and platforms. This report from comScore indicates that there's a whole new breed of media consumers growing out there who aren't shackled to a TV set and would rather access material via some internet-connected device.
Hopefully studies like these will make it apparent to companies like HBO that their neolithic attitude toward providing access to content really needs to be updated.