“We live life in transmedia; we read a Kindle while watching TV and are interrupted by a text. We talk on the phone while driving a car and are distracted by a video billboard. We tweet our location, share what we see, and comment on what others are doing hundreds of miles away, all in real time.” – Sean Hood, Filmmaker

For many content creators and advertisers, the big question of late has been: do “multi-screen” behaviors detract from TV viewing and engagement, or can they actually increase these behaviors—and how? We’re conducting our own study at Latitude, The Future of Storytelling, to explore these questions and many others relating to audiences’ desires and unmet needs around storytelling in a broader sense. (Preliminary findings will be released within the next couple weeks, so check back or sign up to notified by email.)

The Multi-Screen Marketer report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau offers some findings relating multi-screen ownership to TV engagement. They found that the more devices people own, the more likely people are to go online and to use social media while watching TV (even if they’re spending a little less time overall watching TV). In the midst of all this device mania, people still manage to pay attention to ads, too; almost half of people with multiple devices at home recalled brands advertised on the TV screen (perhaps because they stay tuned into the audio, but were too busy multi-tasking to channel-surf). Here’s what else they found:

  • Multiple Screens Doesn’t Mean Less Engaged: When asked to associate up to three advertisers with favorite programs, fourth screeners were actually more likely to be able to do so (53% vs. the average of 46%).
  • Tablets Aren’t Replacing the TV Set Yet: The TV set still accounts for two-thirds of viewing of TV content for fourth screen early adopters under 44 years old.
  • Multi-Screen Means Multi-Action: Almost half (47%) of tablet owners are significantly more likely to take an action (voting, purchasing, etc.) in response to what they’re watching – only 37% of three screen (tv, computer, smartphone) owners said the same.
  • Content Should Be Available Anywhere and Everywhere: People want devices that support each other and multiple-screen viewing – to be able to watch on any device would have a high impact on 56% of participants. (Our own research also suggests that people would like content to be better integrated across platforms, going beyond simple media-shifting.)
  • “Smarter” Devices Are in High Demand: Sixty-one percent said it will have a high impact on them to be able to talk to their devices, hoping to finally have a DVR that can program itself on command.