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Watching Tweevee: Old & New Media Use At The Same Time

If you’re engaged with multiple forms of media–both ‘old’ or traditional media like TV, newspapers and magazines or ‘new’ media like social networks, blogs and real time communications like Twitter–then you are probably one of a growing number of us who use both old and new simultaneously.

When I wrote the post, “MSNBC’s awesome Super Tuesday primary coverage” and started off the post with “This, my friends, is the future of television” I believed it then and believe it even more now. It’s just that the connections to traditional TV weren’t exactly what I expected when using the multimedia platform delivered by the gang over at MSNBC, and that emerging technologies would make TV watching a shared experience similar to the “old days” when many of us would hang around the water cooler at work the morning after some TV event or show and commiserate about it.

The crew over at the Nielsen Company just released a new report that is revealing more about how people are watching “Tweevee” (my made up name for a combination of Twitter use and TV watching):

Americans increased their overall media usage and media multitasking according to The Nielsen Company’s latest Three Screen Report (PDF), which tracks consumption across TV, Internet and mobile phones.  In the last quarter of 2009, simultaneous use of the Internet while watching TV reached three and a half hours a month, up 35% from the previous quarter. Nearly 60% of TV viewers now use the Internet once a month while also watching TV.

The rise in simultaneous use of the web and TV gives the viewer a unique on-screen and off-screen relationship with TV programming,” said Nielsen Company media product leader Matt O’Grady. “The initial fear was that Internet and mobile video and entertainment would slowly cannibalize traditional TV viewing, but the steady trend of increased TV viewership alongside expanded simultaneous usage argues something quite different.

It went on to talk about DVR use (surprise…more of us are timeshifting our video use!) and then in to online video consumption:

Online video consumption is up 16% from last year. Of note, approximately 44% of all online video is being viewed in the workplace.  The research shows that Americans watch network programs online when they miss an episode or when a TV is not available.  Online video is used essentially like DVR and not typically a replacement for watching TV.

Active mobile video users grew by 57% from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009, from 11.2 million to 17.6 million.  Much of this increase can be linked to the strong growth of smartphones in the marketplace.

Here’s the deal: No question in my mind that connecting socially makes it more fun to watch a live event (e.g., Academy Awards, Grammys, Super Bowl) and see what our friends are saying about it, almost like they’re in the room with us. But what’s more intriguing to me is that more of us are consuming information, connecting socially and engaging online while doing something else.

Is TV too boring? Is it the ability to share with our friends and acquaintances? Are we more capable of multitasking then we thought? Maybe all or some of those, but we’re also discovering that for every hour of TV watching we do, the increase odds we’ll die go up 11%.

One this is certain though, the way we connect with others and consume media has already changed forever.

About Steve Borsch

I'm CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software in St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services. Read more about me here unless you're already weary of me telling you how incredible and awesome I am.

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