Football fans turn to tablets for second-screening

UEFA Euro 2012: Football fans turning to tablets and second-screen use grows as tournament displays power to brands.

IAB UK, in cooperation with ESPN in the UK, today publish the results of research into fans’ media consumption around UEFA EURO 2012, to understand the role played by online, mobile and social alongside more traditional media.

The research – conducted with UK sports fans - found that while TV remains the preferred viewing device to watch the tournament, more than half (54%) use another digital device whilst watching – so-called “second screen” activity. Furthermore, it found that social networking and mobile play a vital role in keeping viewers up to date and enhancing excitement around the tournament. The study also affirms the huge appeal of such tournaments for brands, with almost all respondents (98%) having watched at least one UEFA Euro 2012 match.

Multi-screen engagement remains high with tablets rising in prominence

Fans’ use of multiple devices to watch matches remains high with the use of tablets surging: one in ten who used an additional device whilst watching games on TV used a tablet. Smartphones took the top spot with 28% of respondents favouring this as their second-screen device alongside the TV set. Whereas ESPN and IAB research around fans’ media consumption of the 2010 FIFA World Cup showed laptops to be fans’ favourite alternative to TV for watching matches, the latest research shows laptops have slid to second place, with 25% of respondents choosing this as their second screen device.

The research also shows that fans are using second screens heavily for sports: more than two-thirds (68%) of those dual screening whilst watching UEFA Euro 2012 games use the extra device on UEFA Euro 2012-related activity. Of this group, 39% visited social networking sites in relation to the matches, 17% visited related websites, 16% placed bets and 11% use related apps.

In addition to using a second screen for UEFA Euro 2012 activities, the research found that people are also continuing with their normal internet usage behaviour while watching matches on TV, with 61% checking emails and 13% choosing to carry out their online banking chores whilst the games were on.

Excitement intensifies via social networks

16% of fans read tweets and 10% published tweets while 20% of respondents said that social networks played a crucial role in keeping them up to speed with the game when they were unable to watch it live. Websites also had a part to play in keeping fans informed with 23% going online for live scores and updates.

Additionally, more social media interaction is happening during games rather than before or after, with 25% sending text messages or 16% reading tweets, suggesting a shift as people have become more comfortable with the technology.

The research follows a similar exercise by both parties around the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

IAB research manager, Hannah Bewley, said: “With the next World Cup taking place in Brazil it will be interesting to see what impact the time difference in Brazil has on social media for the 2014 World Cup. A great opportunity for location based and social advertising no doubt.”

Jehan Shah, associate director, sales, ESPN EMEA, said: “The research shows that it is more important than ever for brands and media companies to develop multiple and varied digital sports offerings for fans. It also shows the rise of fans’ ‘second-screen’ activities while watching games on TV is not a zero sum game: it shows there is a growing, robust market to serve fans with companion, supplementary digital services.”

The research was based on a survey using the ESPN Fan Forum - which is a representative sample of over 3,000 UK sports fans the sports media company regularly engages with for research into their views and media-consumption habits - between 16-21 June this year. The ESPN Fan Forum is managed by Ipsos Mori.