Let’s attempt a neologism: "MultiScreenTasking". Such factorization describes the new situation of television. TV viewers do many things at the same time with many screens. Much of multitasking involving TV is also multiscreening, it is also transmedia.
Mise à jour 5 janvier 2012
It has always been an issue with the media: listening to the radio while reading a magazine, driving a car, having breakfast, doing homework... or… reading a paper while listening to the radio, to music, etc. TV, in turn, developed a new kind of multitasking: reading the TV guide, knitting or having dinner in front of the TV.
Multitasking means putting more activities in a given time period, simultaneusly. Two or more activities in one unit of time. Does this mean sharing attention between two activities or doubling attention capacity? Marketing prefers TV only; or Web or magazine only, assuming that multitasking allocates less time to commercials. Of course, there might be a dominant task and a secondary one. TV viewing has always involved multitasking, but this multitasking activity has only been measured by declarative surveys (time budget).
It happens when people look at two or more screens at the same time and when messages resonate from one screen to another. Of course, there might be a dominant screen and an ancillary screen. TV, laptop, tablet, smartphone. ebook: screens of all sizes generate a multiscreen experience. TV is intensified, completed, explained, explored by another screen, smaller but more connected, with interactive capacities thanks to apps: a laptop, a smartphone or a tablet (iPad). And this seems to be good for advertising; according to a Google/Nielsen/CBS study, it increases awareness and likability.
Transmedia is what happens when a story (as in storytelling) is spreading beyond one single media, generally beyond one single screen, beyond one single platform. It might increase engagement for people who are following the story from one platform to another. In such a case, media are less simultaneous and there is almost no multitasking.
Why and how to MultiScreenTask? Social TV is the thing this year!
First and foresmost, TV MultiScreenTasking means going social with Facebook, Twitter or Google+: social TV viewing called sometimes "Facebookisation of television". See, for examples, Tunerfish, fav.tv, i.TV, SnappyTV, Into-Now (bought by Yahoo!), Yap.TV Social TV Guide, SocialGuide, Clipsync, etc. Comcast is testing a Facebook app for cable TV, Squrl, personal IPG, integration with social networks.
TV is not an isolated media anymore: it is less and less uniquely family. The TV experience is extended beyond home, beyond kids and parents (“audience conjointe”, TF1). It is enlarged to include your "friends". Instead of passive TV audience, marketing deals with active viewers. TV was a mass media, multiscreentasking transforms it into a massive personal media.
TV was already pretty much "social" at its beginning (Cf. Dinah Washington, the "Queen of the Blues", 1953, "TV is the thing this year"), but that is another story ;-) !
- Navigate, choose programs, bookmark: remote control, interactive progam guides, TV Forecast, TV Schedules, ZAP2>it, buddyTV, TeeVlog, Yidio, Zeebox, Peel, Dijit, Zapitano, etc.
- Puts TV viewers on TV: YouToo, which claims to be "the first social TV network", allows people to show off. "Be on TV", "Be Seen on TV", "Be social about TV": the three commandments for multiscreentasking TV! "Sign up to be a star"says TV Dinner!
- Track shows online: sideReel, GetGlue (integrated into DirecTV)
- Search, find, recommend: Gracenote eyeQ, SeaChange (recommendation engine), Blinkx, Shelby.tv ("powered by your friends"), iblbblr (conversation, recommendation)
- Vote: iPowow scoring system, Live Talkback (social TV, participation and voting, clap or boo programs: “involve your audience”)
- Play: see Intrasonics SDK for mobile apps
- Tag a show or a commercial to get more content or advertising: Shazam for TV, uhuhh
- Shop, buy, pay, download discount coupons: Ding Ding Youhui (BesTV, Shanghai), shopkick (avec le network CW)
- Explain, inform, complete, share: TVCheck (Orange), Miso, an app that synchronizes with "Dexter" (Showtime), TV Foundry (AT and T/U-Verse), Umami ("Your TV companion")
- Manage recording: save.tv ("Ihr persönliches Online-Videoarchiv"), TiVO
- Interact with fictional characters and friend Zelda ("Legend of Zelda", the videogame), Kurt Hummel ("Glee") or Severus Snape ("Harry Potter"): cf. SocialSamba.
QuestionsWhat kind of analytics do we need for multiscreentasking? Do we need audience measurement for each of the screens? Probably not: instead of audience (passive by definition), these companion apps bring actions. Actions speak for themselves. One needs new kinds of tools to analyse conversations and sentiments about programs (see Trendrr, for instance), one needs new kinds of tools to analyse viewing acts (as in "speech acts"). Multiscreentasking does more than increase pure and simple frequency: it increases not only the number but also the density of impressions (acceleration effect).
How is attention shared between screens? The math of attention can be estimated, since only one sense is at play, vision. What is the path of the eyes between screens? We could draw screen graphs, modelize the dynamics of actions: a new kind of social graphs.
Note also that
- The living room wall could become a huge screen: NDS Surfaces brings multiscreentasking to a new dimension. One screen for a major TV program and many other screens on a wall where one can watch, at the same time, news, weather, interactive widgets, OTT apps, etc. The viewer can change the size of the different screens with the remote (tablet).
- TV programs are usually divided in scripted and unscripted programs: the unscripted part is now on another screen, personalized.
- Multiscreentasking is hyper engagement (hyper activity?); it does not affect our downtime, but it might affect our opportunity to daydream while watching TV. And daydreaming is probably where ideas, new decisions, creativity come from ...
- Comments about TV (TV Genome data) can be used by advertisers or TV networks (cf. bluefin Labs)
- According to McLuhan's classification of media, TV was "cool"; is multiscreentasking making it a "hot" media?
- And to go even further: people used to talk to their TV set (loud "dialog" or interior speech, "sous-conversation"); with multiscreentasking, they do more than just talk, they actually do something to the TV. A new behavioral psychology of engagement is to be invented.
- How about radio? Could Nielsen's PPM play a role in a cross-platform strategy?