Capturing attention in the attention deficit economy

This article is part of a series of articles on capturing attention in the attention deficit economy. Read more.

Until now, TV viewing has been remarkably resilient despite the overall proliferation of digital media. As far as Belgium is concerned, in spite of the growth of (mobile) internet, the booming adoption of smartphones and the attractive offers made by subscription video on demand (SVOD) players, consumers have maintained their loyalty to their traditional TV screens: 10 years ago, people aged 12 and over spent an average of three hours a day in front of these screens, and today they continue to view as long, if we take into account 23 minutes in time-shifted viewing. However, advertisers regularly ask the (right) question:'OK, viewers sit in front of their TV as long as they used to do in the past, but are they as engaged as they were, when years ago they had less potentially distracting devices at their disposal?' In other words, are the audience engagement values worth the same as in the past?TAM (television audience measurement) does not provide direct answers to this question, since it only reports on 'presence in the room, technically able to watch TV' (the precise definition of TV viewing in Belgium), but does not provide clear evidence on actual attention. Aware of this lack of insight into the topic, in spring 2016, Space conducted an online survey among 1,181 Belgians aged 18 and over. The questionnaire examined declared attention levels to TV programmes, by genres, but also by dayparts and weekdays. This survey helps develop a more qualitative view on TV planning and scheduling as it promotes the value of context.