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Television still king, but 'screen-stacking' on the rise worldwide, study shows

Adults around the world remain hooked on TV, but the consumption habits of content-hungry viewers are changing rapidly, according to TNS, a global research consultancy.

While people's love affair with television endures, TV sets alone are no longer enough to satisfy the appetite for content, driving the growth of online media and "screen-stacking".

In "Connected Life", a study of more than 55,000 Internet users worldwide, TNS found that almost half of people (48 per cent) who watch TV in the evening simultaneously engage in other digital activities, such as using social media, checking their e-mail or shopping online.

The Asia-Pacific region is ahead of this trend, with 54 per cent of people across the region taking part in such "screen-stacking" activities. This varies across the region, peaking at 79 per cent in Japan and coming in at just 37 per cent in China, while Thailand is in the high-ranking group at 66 per cent.

"This constant connectivity across multiple devices has come to the fore during the Fifa World Cup in recent weeks," said Joe Webb, head of digital at TNS Asia-Pacific. "People the world over are engaging with the event in various ways across different devices - watching it on TV, tablet or mobile, while also engaging in conversations on social media. It's a perfect example of how screen-stacking behaviour has really taken hold."

The survey found that globally, people own about four digital devices each. In the Asia-Pacific region, the average is three. Respondents in Thailand hold the regional average of three devices, but that figure rises to five among respondents in Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan.

This, combined with demand for TV and video content on the go, is fuelling the rise of multi-screening or screen-stacking - the use of several digital devices at the same time.

People's desire to access their favourite TV shows at all hours of the day is also driving online usage. One-quarter (25 per cent) of those surveyed now watch content on a personal computer, laptop, tablet or mobile every day. This rises to one-third (33 per cent) in mainland China and Singapore and 32 per cent in Hong Kong, where "phablets" (devices that work as both a phone and a tablet) are increasingly popular. For Thailand, this is reported at 11 per cent, which means there is a lot of room for the market to grow.

Yet despite this surge in online consumption, traditional TV sets still play a huge part in people's lives, with three-quarters of respondents (75 per cent globally, 73 per cent in Asia-Pacific and 85 per cent in Thailand) sitting in front of the box every day.

Many of the big global media companies are already taking advantage of growing online viewing trends, offering on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer, Hulu or HBO GO, which allow people to access premium content wherever they are through their phones or tablets.

"It's no surprise that we are seeing such a big trend towards screen-stacking in Asian markets - the appetite for online content is huge and growing all the time," Webb said. "However, TV does still have a role to play - particularly during dinner, when we don't have hands free to navigate on other devices. "Our attachment to the TV has been supported by the rise in digital set-top boxes, catch-up TV and on-demand services."

He concluded: "What's clear is that media multi-tasking is here to stay and the implications for advertisers are significant - there's a real opportunity for those that understand how to really integrate their activity in our increasingly connected world."


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