88% of Tablet and Smartphone Owners Use Their Device While Watching TV, Study Finds

Talk of mobile devices as “second screens” has been growing lately. Now, the more clever companies are crafting apps designed to be utilized as second screens while the users watch television, which remains their “first” or “primary” screen. Hockey Night in Canada’s new app is one recent example.

Whether businesses realize it or not, the second screen is already here—big time. A staggering 86% of smartphone owners and 88% have tablet owners have used their device while watching TV at least once in the past month, according to new data from Nielsen.

Nielsen surveyed users in the US, UK, Germany, and Italty, to offer a broad scope of data. It found that up to one quarter of mobile device owners use their smartphone or tablet “several times a day” while watching TV, with another 19% using it “once a day,” and another quarter using it “several times a week.” Keep your mind out of the gutter here, but this is some seriously fast and deep penetration that we’re observing in the second screen space.

TV once had consumers’ sole attention; this era is officially dead. Smartphones and tablets sit in the palms of nearly all television users now, and this number is poised to only grow as more people buy smartphones and tablets.

This poses an obvious question: what actions are being performed on the second screen? According to Nielsen’s data, checking email is the most popular activity. But consumption of content related to the show clocked in second—so there’s at least one huge opportunity companies can cash in on.

Experts once said to advertisers, don’t bother putting links on a TV ad or show because no one will remember to visit the site after the show is done when they return to their desktop. Clearly, times have changed. Now, with devices in the palms of watchers’ hands, seeing a link on the screen is apt to prompt a visit within just a few seconds.

Chart: Nielsen

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