Transformers, The Fighter, Southpaw, Mark Walhberg and Attention Spans

This week our task was to look at the emergence of attention as a problem for media audience research. I decided to focus on the idea that are people more distracted than they use to be and can people multitask whilst engaging in two media platforms.

At the start of the mid-session break my friends BJ, Stuart, Aaron and I decided to watch a few movies at home. We had a movie marathon during the day which saw us watch Southpaw, Transformers and The Fighter (we love Mark Wahlberg).

This was a perfect test for me to see how often the boys checked their phones during the three movies and how regularly they checked them. The first movie we put on was Southpaw which is a newer release movie. The movie runs for approximately 2h 4m which is fairly long however BJ and Aaron were the only two that checked their phones. Stuart and I had our phones with us however did not check them. I believe this is because neither one of us had seen the movie therefore we were more engaged.

The next movie on the list was Transformers 4. A movie which we had all seen and that runs for a slightly longer time 2h 45m. This is where the all of the viewers multitasked throughout the movie. Whether it was the longer running time or the fact that we had seen the movie before all of us were engaging with our phones by either texting, using facebook, checking Instagram or snapchatting.

Finally the last move on the agenda was another Mark Wahlberg movie called The Fighter. This was the shortest movie in the marathon only running for 1h 56m and I was the only participant that has seen it. The engagement with external media (phones) was again limited due to the participants being more engaged because they had not seen the movie. However BJ did take two calls during this movie. I believe that this was the first time a participant had received a call was purely because of timing. This last movie was watch at 7pm whereas the other movies were watched during the day at 11am and 1:30pm.

In concluding my observations I wouldn’t say that attention spans are dropping and media shouldn’t be worried. There are plenty of television shows such as Q and A (#qanda) and Have You Been Paying Attention? (#hybpa) which now incorporate live tweets into their broadcast. Movies and Television have a great opportunity to engage with their fans even more if they can incorporate other media into their medium.

Reference List:

Teixeria S. T. 2014, ‘The Rising Cost of Consumer Attention: Why Should You Care, and What You Can Do about It’, Harvard Business School, viewed on 17th September 2015,


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