Nielsen and Yahoo conducted a survey that revealed 86% of mobile phone owners use the internet on their handset while watching TV. If they are not opening an application, then mobile phones owners are browsing the internet or checking out the latest Facebook and Twitter status updates. The study queried over 8,000 users between the ages of 13-64 about their internet usage.
Of this 8,000, a total of 5,313 owned an internet-connected mobile device and were grouped into a mobile internet category. While a whopping 86% of survey respondents admitted to using their mobile device while watching TV, this figure topped jumped up to 92% for 13-24 year olds,. When using a handset, 33% were using mobile applications, 37% were browsing the internet, and 40% were catching up with friends on social networks.
For those who own a smartphone, these results are not at all surprising. As soon as an alert comes through, most people find it difficult not to check that email, respond to a text or read that incoming twitter mention. Unless it is a cliffhanger moment, most people will pick up their phone and check out their alert. It is also becoming standard practice for folks to share salient moments of TV shows or sporting events on Twitter or Facebook. I did not have to watch the World Cup last year to know who was winning which match and when the vuvuzelas were in full swing.
There is also a wealth of information on websites like Wikipedia, IMDb and fan sites that let you find additional information about the show or movie that you are watching. It is so tempting to grab an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy tab and use it during a commercial to find out the episode details, watch an upcoming trailer, or see what others are commenting on a forum. It is a way of watching TV that is unique to this current generation and is a growing area that marketers are trying to tap using data from studies just like this Nielsen/Yahoo one.