TV alone no longer satisfies consumers’ appetite for content, driving the growth of online media and 'screen-stacking', or the use of multiple devices at the same time. Globally, 48 per cent of viewers take part in other digital activities while watching TV. The numbers are far more pronounced in Asian markets. In APAC, 54 per cent of people across the region take part in screen-stacking activities, which includes social media, email and shopping online.
Reflecting Japan's technological advancement, the figure was highest in that country, where 79 per cent of users engage with as many as five devices at a time.
“Traditional media is not on the demise,” said Joe Webb, head of digital, TNS Asia-Pacific. “Online is a tremendous complement. TV is alive and well and people are finding more ways to access what they want, especially in Asia.”
In Hong Kong 72 per cent are engaged on various devices. More people in the city actually choose to watch TV and video online rather than on traditional TV sets. After dinner, one quarter of people (26 per cent) tune into content on their digital devices, in contrast to 14 per cent who switch on their TVs.
Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam also reported high screen-stacking rates.
Surprisingly, at 37 per cent those in China screen-stack the least out of all the markets in the region. This is because the digital audience in China is heavily polarised between those who are wealthy enough and engaged enough to keep up with the latest trends and devices, and those who aren’t. “In China there are a number of online users who consolidate all their behaviour around mobile because it’s the only or the main device they own," Webb said. "There is a real need to target at a granular audience level, or take a tiered approach if chasing the total market.”
The study, titled Connected Life, examined the digital attitudes and behaviours of 56,600 internet users in 50 countries, exploring how technology is transforming the lives of consumers. The fieldwork took place between March and June of this year.
Webb said that as people want to watch more TV wherever they are, there’s a real need for on-demand services. “Offer people more choice, they’ll reward you with viewership,” he added.
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.
“However, TV does still have a role to play, particularly during dinner, when we don’t have hands free to navigate on other devices," Webb said. "Our attachment to the TV has been supported by the rise in digital set-top boxes, catch-up TV and on-demand services.”
Of all the Asian countries, Indonesia watches more TV than the rest of the region (93 per cent) and watches the least video online, just 6 per cent. In Malaysia, 38 per cent of viewers watch video online every day, more than any other market in the region.
TV watchers in Vietnam and Australia (82 per cent) are more likely to the main screen their full attention over dinner than anyone else in Asia-Pacific. Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand viewers appeared to divide their attention the most.
Time spent on smartphones and tablets now also exceeds time spent on PCs and laptops, which totalled 2.4 hours globally and 2.2 hours in APAC. Users spend 3.2 hours on their mobile devices in APAC. The figures account for time spent, regardless of the overlap in consumption.