Multiscreen viewing on the rise (but what about multi-tasking?)

Australians are watching more TV than we were a year ago and we prefer to watch it on a big screen TV, according to data released by OzTAM.

The latest Australian Multi-Screen Report says Australians spend approx 100 hours/month with traditional TV, up 1.2% on the preceding 12 months.

15% of Australian homes now have tablets and while video viewing via PCs and mobile devices rises rapidly, 96% of all video is still viewed on a conventional TV set.

Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) are now in 47% of homes, coupled with digital terrestrial television (DTT) penetration approaching 100%.

96% of homes can receive digital television and 74% have converted every set in the home to digital, up from 55% a year ago.

But the survey neglected to find out how many viewers were multi-tasking with a second screen while they were watching television.

Meanwhile OzTAM has also been trialling 100 homes that viewed programmes on both their TV sets and PCs and plans to introduce the equipment to its wider panel.

Doug Peiffer, CEO, OzTAM, said: “The use of new devices will continue to grow – as seen in the estimated 15% of Australian households that already have a tablet device. PCs and mobile devices are creating additional opportunities to view, in the process keeping consumers close to the content.

“Amid the excitement about such technologies though, Australians’ TV habits remain largely unchanged. People still enjoy nearly 100 hours of television on the conventional set every month, and 96% of viewing is still to the traditional in-home TV.

Viewing via the conventional TV includes broadcast content only; video viewing on second and third screens can include both broadcast and non-broadcast video content.

Detailed findings
1. Take-up of tablets is increasing
• An estimated 15% of Australian households have at least one tablet device
• Watching any video content on tablets grew from just 2% of the total online population at the end of 2010 to 5% by the end of 2011 (Source; Nielsen 2012 Australian Online Consumer report)

2. TV viewing is strong
• Households have greater choice and access to DTT:
o 96% of all homes have at least one DTT-enabled TV set (up from 90% in Q1 2011)
o 74% of homes can receive DTT on every working TV set in the home (55% in Q1 2011)
• 47% of households have time-shifting devices such as PVRs (up from 37% in Q1 2011)
• Combined, these factors give viewers greater choice and access to television content and are stimulating viewing via the conventional TV set:
o Average monthly time spent viewing television broadcast content in the home via conventional TV sets is up by 1 hour and 12 minutes year-on-year, now at 97 minutes and 15 seconds. (All People figures; TV viewing behaviour of course
fluctuates seasonally, with viewing increasing in winter time)
o Average monthly time spent viewing playback (recorded) TV content is up by 1 hour and 36 minutes since Q1 2011, now at 6 hours 33 minutes per month
• Approximately 99% of Australian households have at least one working TV set. Overall TV monthly reach (that is, where people watch at least some television during the period) is steady year-on-year at 98% of Australians nationally

3. Video viewing on PCs is rising but remains small in comparison to conventional TV
• 78% of households are connected to the Internet (77% in Q1 2011), providing potential access to online television video content
• Australians spent an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes per month watching any online video (not just television broadcast related content) in Q1 2012, up from 2 hours and 7 minutes in Q1 2011

4. Smartphone take-up is increasing but video viewing on such devices remains small
• An estimated 48% of Australians aged 16+ years own a smartphone (35% in Q1 2011)
• As of Q4 2011 (the latest figures available), users spent an average 1 hour and 20 minutes per month watching any video (not just television broadcast content) on a mobile phone (35 minutes in Q1 2011), suggesting use of such devices to view TV content remains small

5. There is a strong and positive relationship between screen size and propensity to view, with people demonstrating a preference to watch content on the largest screen available:
• 96% of all video viewing still goes to the traditional TV set
• The combination of the extended screens (PC and mobile phone usage) for any video content still accounts for just 4% of the video consumption on traditional TV sets:
o 3 hours 15 minutes per month on PCs (All People)
o 1 hour 20 minutes per month on mobiles (people aged 16+; Q4 2011)
o 97 hours 15 minutes per month on a traditional TV (All People)


  1. My laptop is always on the arm of the couch while I watch TV, most of what I am looking at is unrelated, facebook, games or this site. I also whip out my iphone when something crosses my mind, often the apps are quicker than the computer, like the imdb one when I do want to look up something related to what I am watching.

  2. I only multi-view when I’m on my desktop PC (TV in a small window on Windows). Or if I’m on my laptop eating dinner and have the main TV on. Otherwise I prefer to veg out and watch television on a big screen passively. It’s my time to tune out and disconnect and enjoy a show or movie. I only check my smartphone for txts or phone calls.

  3. 90% of the time I watch TV now I have the iPad looking up either related or unrelated info, depending on the show. As others have said it might be the related Wikipedia article or follow up online info, or if it’s reality TV like Masterchef I am usually reading something else entirely and just looking up occasionally.

    We almost never watch TV live, opting to time shift half an hour or so so that we completely skip the ads.

    I guess I’m the nightmare viewer for TV stations and content producers!

  4. Maev....Sydney

    I am like the person in the pic….except I have a PC with a large HD monitor…like a small TV…both it and the TV go on/off at the same time…I watch catchup on this glorious screen…
    Right now watching Ready Steady Cook…and doing this to avoid watching Colin Lane too much…*G*….check out this site a few times a day…as it is constantly updating.

  5. I’m another one looking up Wiki!! Or I’m checking Facebook, seeing what else is on other channels, checking news updates, seeing what the consensus is on Twitter – especially for shows like The Voice and The Block!

  6. Secret Squirrel

    When watching commercial TV I have my laptop or a book with me so that I don’t have to put up with the almost 100% annoying ads, but I generally don’t multitask during the show – if it’s not that interesting I don’t watch it, the TV doesn’t have to be on.

    @MS – you should have bought a tablet that was capable of running Flash.

  7. I agree, may I have ATD but most of the time I’m doing something else while watching TV. Going online to check something about the show I’m watching or to see what’s next or on other channels.

  8. I would have to say that I’m multi tasking most of the time, looking up wiki too (I’m not the only one!) or shopping or browsing here! They should definitely include the question, our attention span is not what it used to be.

  9. I’d say 75% of the time, I usually pick up my phone, tablet or laptop while watching TV either because I want to do something else, or I’m looking up Wikipedia to find out more about the episode/movie or a cast member.

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