Viewser acceptance of two-screen media was accidentally discovered in 1996 during a Showtime cable network prizefight. The network invited viewers who had a computer and Internet access to log on to a boxing Web site to score the Mike Tyson versus Frank Bruno bout. Showtime expected a spike of response at the end of the match, when fight fans went to another room and booted up their PCs.
Instead, Showtime's Web site began logging hits with every punch. Someone quickly figured out that the two screens were co-located, and viewers were already connected to the Web.
Since then, programmers and advertisers have been experimenting with cross-platform promotions. BIG Research's data — like similar findings from other companies — underscore the significance of multitasking. Drenik notes that computer users also listen to a lot of radio while online — both Internet music channels and conventional, over-the-air local radio stations. That's another opportunity for creating dynamic cross-platform commercials, beyond today's typical ads that merely refer prospective customers to a retail or corporate Web site.