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Pew: Presidential debate viewers weren't very digital


During the first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, 56 percent of Americans watched it live. But their choice of screen indicates huge opportunities for digital media, since TV still dominates the landscape.

According to a new Pew Research Center for the People & the Press report, just 11 percent of those live viewers used more than one screen, one of which was usually a TV set. A smaller sliver, 3 percent, said they only watched on a single screen, but that was not a TV.

Americans didn’t instinctively turn to Twitter, Facebook or other social networks, either. The tweets and status updates so often quoted by mainstream media came from about a third of those who followed the debate in real time online, a not-very-representative 5 percent of the overall debate audience.

Of those who watched the debate live, nobody aged 65 and older shared their reactions online in real time. The most socially engaged segment was watchers under 40, 8 percent of whom shared their thoughts socially, with 5 percent of those 40-65 doing the same.

Most – 83 percent – of Americans followed the first presidential debate live or afterwards, with 70 percent of Americans turning to television.

After that it gets interesting. Newspapers compared to online and mobile as a source are separated by just 3 percent (32 percent to 29 percent). Social and radio were close too, with 22 percent reporting social networks as a source and 24 percent naming radio.

Related links:

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press – One-in-Ten ‘Dual-Screened’ the Presidential Debate

Download the report here [PDF]

 Photo by Flickr user VectorPortal, used under Creative Commons license