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Contrary to popular misconception, owners of tablets are actually big consumers of TV content rather than using their iPads or Androids to do something else, a BBC World News and BBC.com survey has found.

In what is claimed to be the largest global study to date on the consumption of news in the digital age, the survey found that multiple devices — particularly tablets — fundamentally complement not detract from TV viewing, with the key 25-34 age demographic being the biggest news enthusiasts.

That said, TV still dominates overall usage, taking 42% of people's news consumption time compared with laptops (29%), smartphones (18%) and tablets (10%). Yet the research also confirmed that using a second screening for news is becoming commonplace, with users often using devices in tandem. 83% of tablet users say they have used their tablets while watching television. The survey also found that in breaking news situations users turn to television as their primary and first device (42%), with the majority (66%) then turning to the Internet to investigate stories further.

In particular, the survey found that tablet owners watch more TV news, not less, with 43% of tablet users saying they consume more TV than they did five years ago, and most saying they use tablets alongside TV.

Crucially for content owners, who need to monetise or indeed pay for these multiplatform services, people responded to advertising across all screens. New audiences said that they expect to see advertising nearly as much on mobile (79% tablet, 84% smartphone) as they do on TV (87%) and online (84%). One in seven users indicated that they responded to a mobile ad in the last four weeks, while respective responses to TV and desktop were one in five and one in four.

The survey found that, rather than competing, different platforms complement one another, allowing people to layer their device usage throughout the day. Smartphones and laptops were most popular throughout the working day, peaking at around 1pm. TV usage spiked from 5pm onwards, and at its peak time of 7pm TV use is 50% higher than for any other device.

Commented Jim Egan, CEO of BBC Global News Ltd: "Avid news consumers are hungry for information wherever they are and expect to stay in touch on all the devices they now own. There's been speculation for years that mainstream uptake of smartphones, laptops and tablets will have a negative impact on television viewing, but this study has found that the four devices actually work well together, resulting in greater overall consumption rather than having a cannibalising effect."

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