Exploring Divided Attention: Watching Sports with a Second Screen in India


TV viewing these days is one task in a multi-tasking activity. Viewers now respond through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. This paper studies the use of social media while watching sports with a view to understanding its impact on TV advertising. Using structured observations, in-depth interviews and netnography, the study found that sports viewers connect and interact on social media; they use Twitter for interactions, Facebook for private interactions, Instagram for personal pictures and Pinterest for stylish and fashionable pictures. They interact with caution as they are aware their actions develop their ‘digital image’ (portrayal of person via online platforms). They are less interested in watching the match on TV as in the second screen. They are least interested in commercials but advertising can be effective when the content is in sync with the mood of the viewer and connected with the social media platforms.


Sports are often considered as a part of the entertainment industry (Bühler & Nufer, 2006). The coverage is primarily by television (TV). Additionally, viewers use gadgets as a second screen while watching sports on TV (Myriam, 2013). TV is widely used but there is a rise in online media, particularly called as ‘Second Screen’ primarily while watching sports. Second screen experience refers to smart phone or tablet, while watching TV.

Historically, discussions with friends about the preceding evening’s TV programs used to take place at the physical locations but now, they take place in realtime on digital networks. Interestingly, 15-17% of the internet viewers are engaged around TV content (Gruenwedel, 2013). Moreover, 84% of tablet or smart phone owners use their gadgets while watching TV (Yarow, 2014). Twitter has also provided the facility to tune into shows by clicking on ‘See It’. This approach has also influenced media consumption habits.

Additionally, this behaviour is observed in an emerging country such as India where the internet users’ base is expected to reach between 330 and 370 million in 2015 (Pandit, 2014). India has 36 million smart phone users and 60 million personal computers users (Bhinde, 2013). They use multiple media platforms while watching sports.

Interestingly, with increasing internet usage and second screens in India, 76% of advertising professionals suspect that the future would be about real time advertising (Warc, 2014). Advertisers want to know what consumers do while watching sports on TV and what they discuss in order to target ‘fans’ online, real time depending on their mood. To summarize, there are studies in the western countries on sports (Cho, 2013; Shank, 1999), second screen behaviour (Myriam, 2013), multiple media usage (Bhinde, 2013), and real time advertising (Morgan, 2013). However, according to our knowledge, there are no studies embodying all elements and capturing the domain comprehensively in an emerging nation such as India.

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