The family that mobiletasks together, stays together

My wife and I politely declined our standard Big Game party invite this year because all three of our kids along with their partners and friends, insisted that we have our own, insular “12th Man” party. As avid Seahawk fans, we were one crowd that reveled in the one-sided romp. It’s been a long and winding road to finally win a Big Game championship (37 years since the Seahawk’s first year) and 34 years since Seattle’s last professional championship (NBA in 1979).

After grazing on appetizers, all 16 of us took our appointed seats as the game started.  Within seconds each of us started utilizing our smartphones, iPads, PCs and Macs quicker than Manny Ramirez could whiz a football past Peyton Manning into the end zone for a safety. In addition to raving about the Seahawk’s good fortune, about a third of the folks were communicating with friends on Facebook, another third were tweeting commentary on the ads, and the remainder were searching to figure out if any previous Big Game could match the misfit Seahawk shenanigans.

During the game, Symphony Advanced Media tracked what more than 8,300 people were doing on mobile devices while they were watching the game, and the results indicate that “mobiletasking” has become the new norm. Our findings included:

  • 78 percent of Big Game viewers engaged in mobiletasking
  • Mobiletaskers spent about one third of their viewing time using their mobile phones or tablets
  • Two out of five women and one out of three men accessed the Facebook app while viewing

Men 25-54

% Of Viewers Using

% Viewing Time Spent Using

Women 25-54

% Users Using

% Viewing Time Spent Using










Candy Crush



Candy Crush






Google Play Books



Google Play Books









In the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing quite a bit more from SymphonyAM on how mobiletasking impacts TV viewing behavior. Does it detract from engagement with content or ads? Or deepen the experience? What we do know is that mobiletasking tends to lessen “tuneaway” and we’re exploring if it also minimizes fast-forwarding. Further we’ll also provide details on whether mobiletasking bolsters ad recall or not.

During our party, it seemed to me that our mobiletasking contributed to more discussion, a higher level of engagement with each other, the game and the ads. Having a group to corroborate facts, developments, or ”what just happened there” etc. before posting things on Facebook or Twitter fostered a dynamic of heightening our attention to what was happening on the big screen, and which elements of the event were most intriguing to each of us. My wife, who usually sends a disapproving glance when I reach for my smartphone or my PC when we’re home alone, threw all caution to the wind and joined in the fun: how best to needle her father on Facebook for rooting for the Broncos?

Charles Buchwalter is President & CEO of Symphony Advanced Media. His 30 year career in the information services industry includes 13 years at Nielsen where he oversaw the Research & Analytics function for Nielsen Online, served as Chairman and CEO of Nielsen Online Japan, and helped to bring Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings to market. He joined Symphony Advanced Media in August, 2012.

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