Mobile devices are becoming an increasingly common part of our daily TV routines. According to the latest Nielsen survey of connected device owners, nearly half of smartphone owners (46 per cent) and tablet owners (43 per cent) said they use their devices as second screens while watching TV every day. And more than two-thirds of tablet and smartphone owners said they used these second screens multiple times a week during Q1 2013.
So if consumers are using second screens while watching TV, are they using them merely as distractions from TV commercials? Or, less likely, are they using these second screens to engage more deeply with what they’re watching? The answer is both. Among tablet owners, general Web searches (76 per cent) and general Web browsing (68 per cent) are still among the top second-screen activities. But consumers are also using second screens for activities that are directly related to the content they’re viewing, as almost half of tablet owners look up information about what they’re watching.
More than half of smartphone and tablet owners visited a social networking site while watching TV, and at least one-fifth spent time reading social media discussions about the program they were viewing. Many more tablet owners than smartphone owners used their second screens to interact with the show (13%) or to post about it (13%). Some multi-screen users even said they watched a program because of something they read in social media; about 15 percent of tablet users responded this way.
Overall, smartphone users spend an average of nine hours each month accessing social media just from their phone, while tablet owners use these devices for social media an average of four hours each month, according to the Q1 2013 Cross-Platform Report.
Nielsen’s recent survey of connected device owners also found that 20 percent of tablet owners said they use their device to shop for what was being advertised on TV, providing advertisers another opportunity to connect with consumers.
"In the spectrum of evolving media, nothing is growing faster than the adoption of portable devices or the consumption of content on these devices. Smartphones and tablets have revolutionized our ability to be connected to each other and to our favorite shows at all times," said Dounia Turrill. SVP Insights, Nielsen.
"The time has truly arrived when we can say that we can have it all! As consumers, we have the freedom to move from place to place and bring content and information with us. We can walk out the door in the morning using our smartphone, sit on a commuter train shifting to the larger tablet screen and later, find the comfort of the big set as we sit down after a day out… or hide in a quiet spot to watch TV and TV-like content on our tablet, laptop or desktop computer. The choices are endless and media companies trigger the desire fueled by the ability to shift our habits to satisfy our needs - because we want it all, and have it all!"