Whether to check email or to look up program or product information, using a tablet or smartphone while watching TV is more common than not according to a Q4 2011 Nielsen survey of connected device owners in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Italy. In the U.S., 88 percent of tablet owners and 86 percent of smartphone owners said they used their device while watching TV at least once during a 30-day period. For 45 percent of tablet-tapping Americans, using their device while watching TV was a daily event, with 26 percent noting simultaneous TV and tablet use several times a day. U.S. smartphone owners showed similar dual usage of TV with their phones, with 41 percent saying their use their phone at least once a day while tuned in.
Device owners in the U.K. also logged heavy usage for tablets (80%) and smartphones (78%) while watching TV. British daily usage of smartphones or tablets while watching TV rivaled that of the U.S.. Nearly a quarter (24%) of those surveyed claiming to use their device several times a day while watching TV.
Italians and Germans were the least likely to use a device while watching TV. In both countries, 29 percent of users said they never use a tablet and TV together and 34 of Italians and 35 percent of Germans said they don’t use their smartphone while watching TV.
The most frequent tablet or smartphone activity across all countries while also watching TV was checking email — either during a commercial break or during the show. Yet device owners also seem to engage with content related to the TV as well, either by looking up information related to the show or looking for deals and general information on products advertised on TV.