According to an Altimeter Group survey conducted in Q2 2013, 40% of digital strategists are already investing in or planning to invest in social TV within the next 12 months. An additional 23% are actively following the space, but have no immediate plans for investment. It’s safe to say that social TV will only grow in the year ahead.

Social TV strategies that receive investment must complement second-screen habits of viewers. I turned to an Altimeter data provider, Global Web Index, to find out more about what exactly viewers are doing on their mobile devices while tuning into their favorite programs. This data (Q4 2013) should serve as a guide for those budgeting for social TV in 2014, supplemented your own data specific to your customer personas and related behaviors.

As referenced in Figure 1 below, “playing games” (M=35%; F=37%) and “chatting with friends” (M=31%; F=35%)  lead second-screen behaviors for both genders. Males are slightly more likely to divert attention toward “reading news” (32%), and women are more likely to spend time “searching for products to buy” (34%).

Perhaps most interesting, however, is what respondents are not  doing on their devices while watching TV.  “Interacting with the online content of the TV show” and similar social TV-specific behaviors are at the bottom of the barrel. This supports the notion that, although viewers are consuming a variety of content types while simultaneously tuned in to TV, they’ll still follow normal content consumption habits (that likely do not include your latest and greatest social TV campaign app, game, or content series).

Fig. 1. Popularity of Second-Screen Behaviors, by Gender

Second-screen behaviors, by gender

Figure 2 examines second-screen behaviors by age range. For the youngest demographics, 16- to 24-year-olds and 25- to 34-year-olds, “chatting with friends” is the most popular behavior (50% and 43%, respectively), with “playing games” coming in at a close second for both age groups (44% and 42%, respectively). Interestingly enough, “playing games” is the most popular second-screen behavior within older demographics as well. It’s also important to note that, similar to looking at the data by gender breakdown, TV-specific content simply does not attract the same size audience as more common second-screen behaviors.

Fig. 2. Popularity of Second-Screen Behaviors, by Age

Second-Screen Behaviors, by Age
The bottom line? When planning investments for social TV-related efforts in 2014, keep your customer’s media consumption habits in mind. If data indicates that viewers stick to old habits when tapping around their devices during TV programming, there’s no need to create an entirely new experience, community, or application aimed at drawing them to your content. Instead, go to where they already are – their chat platforms, mobile and online games, news sites, and online stores. By focusing media, advertising, and content dollars there, you’ll see much greater reward for far less investment.

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