Watch two live programmes at once? You're 'programme packing'.

Programme packing and screen stacking on the rise due to 84% increase in household tablet ownership

Tech-savvy adults, not content with viewing one live TV programme, are watching as many as three programmes at any one time, research conducted by TV Licensing revealed today.

The online research, conducted by YouGov for TV Licensing, shows nearly one in five men (18 per cent) and over one in ten women (11 per cent) polled have watched two live TV programmes simultaneously within the past year whilst three per cent of respondents said they had watched three programmes at the same time.

Programme packing, the art of watching multiple live TV programmes simultaneously on two or more electronic devices, is potentially being driven by unmissable live television.

Sport is the main driver of ‘programme packing’ with over a third of UK men and women (38 per cent) responders watching live sport on their TV, while also watching live TV on a second device. Meanwhile, 50 per cent said they view sport on a second device such as a laptop, phone or tablet, whilst watching something else on their TV.

Stephen Farmer, spokesperson for TV Licensing says live sporting events and must-see TV offered by competing broadcasters means viewers are spoilt for choice.

A massive summer of sport, which included the 2014 FIFA World Cup, tennis from Wimbledon, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Tour de France, caused schedule clashes which had the UK’s sport-mad-techies potentially reaching for TV remote controls, tablets, laptops and smartphones so they wouldn’t miss a second of the live sporting action.

In days gone by you would have had to make a decision; which event to watch live and which to record to watch later in the hope you didn’t see the result beforehand. But with nearly half the population now owning a tablet and nearly two thirds owning smartphones according to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report, watching two live programmes simultaneously is easy.

Our research has shown us live TV is the main draw for programme packing and screen stacking.* Sometimes recording a programme to watch later just isn’t an option,” he said.

A congested viewing fixture list this summer included the opening stage of the Tour de France, which clashed with the Argentina v Belgium FIFA World Cup match on Saturday 5 July.

On Sunday 29 June, Dolly Parton’s set at Glastonbury went head-to-head with the Netherlands v Mexico game whilst the men’s final at Wimbledon started at the same time as the Formula One 2014 British Grand Prix on Sunday 6 July.

And those who love swords as well as soccer would have been torn between the season finale of Game of Thrones and Iran v Nigeria on Monday 16 June.

Tom Cavill, a 28-year-old app developer from south London said:

I watched two games at the same time on the final day of the Premier League season. Manchester City faced West Ham and Liverpool took on Newcastle live from Anfield. Both matches kicked off at 3pm, so I was watching all the action live and the other scores on my living room telly and on two laptops.

Research shows tablet usage is on the rise, and programme packing is particularly popular with young adults:

  • According to YouGov research, 6% of adults aged 18 to 24 have watched three live TV programmes at the same time across multiple devices at least once in the past year.
  • According to other research, the majority (89%) of viewing on a TV set, among all individuals, was to live broadcasts in 2013. The remaining 11% was to time-shifted programmes, whether through TV catch-up services or stored on recording devices such as a DVR, within seven days of transmission.**
  • Household take-up of tablet computers has almost doubled over the past year with over four in ten households (44%) reported having one of these devices compared to the same time last year (24%)**
  • 74% of time spent watching audio-visual content on a TV is to live programming. This compares to 15% on a tablet computer and 29% on a smartphone.**
  • Although the VOD market is expanding, it is still a small part of the UK’s viewing. Results from Ofcom’s Digital Day diary research showed that adults watched an average of 2 hours 59 minutes of live TV per day, equating to 69% of all their media viewing time. The next most popular viewing activity, recorded TV, accounted for 40 minutes (16%).**

A TV Licence is needed to watch or record any TV programme as it’s being shown on TV or an online TV service. A TV Licence will cover you to watch live on any mobile device including a laptop, tablet or smart phone. For more information about when a licence is needed, visit


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,351 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 11th August 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

*Screen-Stacking: Term coined by US research consultancy TVS to define watching TV while simultaneously using a smartphone, laptop or tablet for any purpose e.g. social networking.
** Source: Ofcom Communications and Marketing Report, August 2014

Tablet ownership and live viewing figures are from Ofcom’s Communications Market Report, August 2014. Accessed online 7 August 2014 at

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