Tablets, smartphones distracting TV watchers (survey)

A new survey about mobile devices suggests they're distracting TV viewers, but there are opportunities here for studios and advertisers.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Many smartphone and even tablet owners will admit that they're addicted to their mobile devices and often can't put them down.

One situation where that is evident for nearly half of smartphone and tablet owners is while watching television. A new survey from Nielsen Media found that approximately 40 percent of this group in the U.S. used these devices daily while watching TV.

From one perspective, this is multi-tasking. The most common activity was checking email during both TV shows and commercials. However, after that, women opted for social networking more often while men checked up on sports scores.

As far as the social networking stat goes, that fits in line with Nielsen's third quarter Social Media Report, which found that women are more frequent visitors of social networking sites than men.

However, e-readers are actually not common distractors for TV as only 14 percent of participants said that they use these devices while watching TV on a daily basis. The likely reason for this is that e-readers really require the user's complete attention when reading a book, whereas many common apps on tablets and smartphones do not. Facebook might be captivating once in awhile, but it's much easier to glance away to the TV for awhile and come back to the same spot because the content is presented in small snippets.

Thus, while it would be a good idea for TV studios to figure out how to get ahold of this audience and use these mediums to their advantage, tablets and smartphones probably aren't presenting too much of a threat to their shows and commercials.

In fact, in certain situations, these mobile gadgets are already serving as complimentary tools as some respondents said that they used tablets and smartphones to research information related to shows, the products seen in commercials, and coupons and/or promotion related to products being advertised.

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