Multiscreening Coexists Alongside TV in Western Europe

Multiscreening Coexists Alongside TV in Western Europe

More than 300 million people in Western Europe now access the internet at least once per month, eMarketer estimates, and most countries in the region are relatively mature digital markets. Yet despite steady gains in all the EU-5 countries—France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK—internet penetration still varies substantially in these nations and will continue to do so in 2015, ranging from an estimated 58.6% in Italy and 67.1% in Spain to upwards of 75% in France and Germany, according to a new eMarketer report, “Western Europe Digital Users and Usage: Uptake and Access Patterns Continue to Evolve.”

Key drivers of internet uptake and market consolidation in the region include rising tablet and smartphone usage. In both France and Germany, for example, tablet penetration is set to near 38% of the total population this year. Across the EU-5, an estimated 170.4 million people will own a smartphone, and 176.5 million will use a mobile phone to access the web.

Rising device usage is boosting multiscreening in the EU-5, and TV viewing is often accompanied by other activities such as online browsing, instant messaging, gaming or digital shopping and buying.

Predictably, younger viewers are in the vanguard of such behavior. ARD/ZDF-Medienkommission noted that 73% of German-speaking web users ages 14 to 29 watched TV in conjunction with at least one other digital activity in 2014.

Of these, half (35% of the sample) had done something online related to the program they were watching, and 25% of respondents had chatted about that TV content in a digital community. This kind of engagement was less common among older web users, yet in total, 57% of internet users ages 14 and older had combined TV viewing and digital activities.

Google and TNS also reported a high incidence of internet users in several countries using TV and the web simultaneously. Within the EU-5, Spain and the UK scored highest by this measure, with 61% and 63%, respectively, of internet users going online during TV broadcasts.

In Germany and Italy, the proportion was around half, and France ranked lowest, with 44% reporting simultaneous use. Curiously, though, a large majority of respondents in this study—and at least 84% in all EU-5 nations—said their online activity wasn’t related to the TV programs they were watching. Such data tends to undermine any presumption that marketers can easily prompt TV viewers to respond directly to TV ads via digital channels in real time.

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