TiVo reports dramatic rise in multitasking when watching TV.

New research from Tivo indicates a dramatic increase in multitasking during TV viewing: over half of the 856 survey respondents reported multitasking every time or almost every time they watch TV (51%); compared to just over one third (36%) in last year’s survey.

The company just released its its Second Annual TiVo Multitasking and Social TV Survey. Though TV multitasking may be on the increase, viewers also report an increase in TV viewing as the primary focus: 47% of respondents’ total TV time is spent with their primary attention on the TV show while multitasking, versus last year’s 39%. 26% of their TV time is spent multitasking with their main focus on another task, similar to the 2013 study, and 27% of their TV time is spent only watching TV (not multitasking), down from 35% in 2013.

Despite the pronounced increase in TV multitasking, viewers continue to report that their alternate activities are only rarely related to the program being watched. Only 5% of respondents report TV-related multitasking every time or almost every time they watch TV, while 50% report never or almost never engaging in TV-related multitasking. Top TV-time activities include browsing the Internet (74%), reading or sending email (73%) and text messaging (71%).

“Even given the proliferation of multitasking, viewers remain primarily focused on the television shows they are watching,” said TiVo Chief Research Officer Jonathan Steuer. “To paraphrase the Bard, the program’s the thing!”

Online engagement with favorite programs has indeed become commonplace: 61 percent of respondents report searching the Internet for information about the programs they watch and 47 percent have “liked” a show’s official Facebook page. However, these activities do not usually occur while watching the program.

In the early 1950s there were reports of significant drops in water pressure during The Milton Berle Show’s commercial breaks. Apparently, even with the preponderance of PVRs, times have not changed that much, as 85% of respondents reported going to the bathroom during commercial breaks. Even 81% of those with a PVR reported trips to the loo during commercial breaks. Other popular activities include getting a drink or snack (78%), talking to people in the house (50%) and surfing the internet (44%).

63% have noticed Twitter hashtags displayed during television shows, but of this group, only 12% liked seeing hashtags while 53% disliked them. A similar trend occurs with onscreen polls; 37% have noticed them, and within this group, 20% liked and 45%disliked the polls.

Additional Key Findings: 94% of respondents reported that they have multitasked while watching TV. The smartphone (78%) and the laptop (72%) are the two most popular devices used while watching TV.

58%t of respondents reported that they use another device almost every or every time they watch TV. During commercial breaks, 56% of respondents report multitasking every time or almost every time.

25% of those surveyed said searching the Internet for information about a program is the top activity that increases their enjoyment of TV; reading episode recaps and reviews comes in second at 10%.

Only 22% reported ever posting on social media sites about shows they watch; 5% of all respondents do this a few times a week or more. Of those who do post to social media about their TV faves, the majority (71%) selected Facebook as the site they most commonly post about TV; Twitter came in a distant second with 24%

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