July 12, 2012

The Rise of the “Connected Viewer”

Television’s solitary screen is being supplemented by multi-screen interactivity. Half of all adult cell owners (52%) have used their phones recently for engagement, diversion, or interaction with other people while watching TV.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project measured the prevalence of these multi-screen viewing experiences by asking the 88% of American adults who are cell owners whether they had used their phone to engage in several different activities while watching television in the 30 days preceding an April 2012 survey.

We learned that 38% of cell owners used their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks in something they were watching, 22% used their phone to check whether something they heard on television was true or not and 6% used their phone to vote for a reality show contestant.

Three more questions were asked of the 57% of cell owners who download apps, use the internet, or use email on their phones.About a third in this group (35%) visited a website mentioned on television, 20% used their phone to see what other people were saying online about a program they were watching and 19% posted their own comments about that program.

In addition, 29% of cell owners who use text messaging have used their phone recently to exchange text messages with someone else who was watching the same program in a different location.

Taken together, that works out to 52% of all adult cell owners who are “connected viewers” — meaning they took part in at least one of these activities in the 30 days preceding our survey.