COLUMBIA/RESTON: US consumers' preference for multi-screening is reshaping the way they consume media, the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) has suggested.

The trade body, whose membership is made up of media owners, clients and agencies, has unveiled two new reports on media trends, commissioned from digital research firms comScore and Arbitron. Both studies indicated a general willingness among consumers to go online via their PCs, tablets and smartphones while watching TV.

Arbitron's study, taken during January 2012, indicates that just over one in three viewers use three screens – TV, PC and smartphone – to access video content or visit broadcasters' websites, while 92% use at least two screens.

In all, 84% accessed video via their PC and 43% used their mobile. Further, almost half (49%) used both TV and PC to view the content, with just 8% using only TV. 

In terms of simultaneous video use, viewers revealed a preference for browsing "text-centric" sites, rather than video sites, while watching TV.

In all, 90% of respondents had accessed email, social media profiles or search engines while watching TV, compared to the 65% who accessed online video sites.

Meanwhile, the comScore research indicated that 60% of research participants engaged in simultaneous media use of TV and online content during the study's five-week research period, with Facebook the most popular destination, visited by 29% of respondents.

Additionally, comScore found that the simultaneous media use trend was helping to drive user engagement with TV broadcasters. For one of the media owners measured by comScore, around 25% of the consumers who went online while watching the network visited the company's website or accessed its online video content.

"While TV remains the leading media channel, once TV-centric media brands now engage with their consumers across a variety of digital touchpoints," Joan FitzGerald, comScore's VP for TV and cross-media solutions. "While this enhances the quality of brand engagement, it also increases the complexity of media planning and analysis by orders of magnitude."

Results from CIMM's research project will be unveiled at the Advertising Research Foundation's Audience Measurement conference. Warc's US editor, Geoffrey Precourt, is reporting from the event, which takes place in New York this week.

Data sourced from Arbitron/comScore/CIMM; additional content by Warc staff