Meshing or Stacking? Changing TV habits

Featured, Industry News — By on December 19, 2013 20:35


Just after IBC, the IEEE Spectrum website ran a story on second screen use and how our consumption of television is changing. This is something we’ve written about before, and it turns out we really are multitasking more and more.

This story was based on some pretty interesting research by Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK communications industries, and used data taken from their Communications Market Report 2013.

While TV-watching hours are steadily increasing, so too are the number of tasks we do while we are sat in front of it. More recent news that (UK) tablet sales are poised to overtake those of PCs by the end of December, lends this research even more poignancy. Tablets are already used by a third of the UK population, and they have been so instrumental in affecting how we interact with the telly-box, that content providers are fast adapting their programmes to suit.

In fact, Ofcom  has had to define new terms for the different types of companion activity; a ”media mesher” is someone who is multitasking with activities that are directly related to the television show being watched. Conversely, a “media stacker” is someone who is multitasking with activities unrelated to the show being watched.

The report claims that over half (53%, in fact) of all UK adults are regular media multi-taskers. In other words, they either ‘stack’ or ‘mesh’ while watching TV weekly or more often, and this rises to 83% among tablet owners. Stacking is considerably more popular than meshing, with internet browsing the most popular activity, and female ABC1′s are more likely to mesh with something they are watching. And if you’ve had enough of these made-up terms, try this – the amount of video watched on tablets as opposed to the main TV is on the rise – a whopping 69% of people who watch this type of AV content and have both a tablet and smartphone say they do this more on their tablet.

Viewing habits are changing very quickly indeed, and as Ian Cookson memorably put it a couple of years ago on this very site,

 …the viewer doesn’t have to wait until 10pm on a Sunday evening to watch their sporting round-up programme, to see five minutes of highlights of their favourite team enthral the crowd by losing magnificently. They can choose to watch the whole miserable match complete with added statistics.

All 424 pages of the report can be found here.

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