14th August 2012
Home screens in overdrive as one-in-two Brits shared London 2012 experience across several devices simultaneously
British fans were so eager to keep up with the London 2012 Olympics action that more than half not only switched on TVs but also used radios, laptops, smartphones and iPads to follow events simultaneously, according to Intersperience’s latest research project.
A group of 250 people around the UK participated in a special online research project in which they recorded how they followed the action during the middle weekend of the Olympic Games which marked the start of a medal gold rush for Team GB.
The project revealed that information-hungry consumers are highly skilled at using a range of digital devices at once, easily switching attention between tasks and devices. The trend has been spurred by increased use of mobile internet especially via smartphones and tablets.
The research demonstrated that London 2012 was a major event for social media as online diaries revealed strong social networking activity among people following the Olympics at home. It underlined the increasing influence of social media in consumers’ lives: if the results were extrapolated and applied across the entire UK population, it would imply that 16% of people in the UK - or close to 10 million people - used social networking sites to share the Olympics.
In terms of multi-tasking, the research found that 52% of people who watched the action on television followed events simultaneously across two or more devices, frequently following several sports at a time on different screens. In fact, 10% of participants used three or more devices to keep up with the sporting action, while some people used four or more devices.
Participants used several devices in order to get their preferred mix of live action, replays and post-event interviews as well as to get more detail on specific events and athletes and to access social networking sites. Many people reported chatting on the phone about the Games, while also reading results online, watching live TV and sending emails. Chatting on iPad via Facetime was also a popular activity.
In terms of social media, 50% of people following the Olympics at home were social networking during the event, with 45% directly communicating about the Olympics.
Facebook emerged as the dominant site, with 95% of participants using it to share Olympics facts and opinions compared to just 18% who used Twitter, although Twitter was more popular when people were away from home.
The project revealed that many families used digital technology to share the Olympic experience. One woman participant said: "I was on Skype to my husband in Afghanistan and I pointed my laptop webcam at the TV so he could watch specific events with me and I was using Facetime on my iPad to talk to my daughters at Gatwick Airport at the same time so we had a four-way conversation."
A total of 46% of people watching the games on TV at home were also using their laptops at the same time while 31% were using smartphones. Ipads proved popular also, especially for using Facetime to connect with friends and family during major events.
Another participant described his experience of following the Olympic marathon: "I had my DAB radio on Radio Five Live, I had my TV switched on with the sound turned off and I used my laptop to get details of the marathon.