Social TV On The Rise, IAB Finds

A large majority of American adults use mobile devices or computers while watching TV, and a big part of this multiscreen activity is devoted to social media -- much of it related to the TV programs, according to a new study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau titled “The Changing TV Experience: Attitudes and Usage Across Multiple Screens.” The study results come from a survey of 651 U.S. adults conducted by Vision Critical’s Media & Entertainment Practice on behalf of the IAB in January.

Overall, 78% of American adults say they use another device while watching traditional TV, the IAB found. On a daily basis that includes 84% of smartphone users, 79% of computer users, and 65% of tablet owners. Furthermore, 40% of smartphone users, 39% of tablet users, and 28% of computer users say their multiscreen activity has increased over the last year. 

A significant proportion of these multiscreen users are talking about TV online: for example, 42% of smartphone users, 33% of computer users, and 31% of tablet users say they read or post to social media pages about a show, movie, or actor. Similarly, 54% of smartphone users, 38% of computer users, and 37% of tablet users say they email, IM, or text with friends about a show or movie.

They are also talking about advertising: according to the IAB 34% of smartphone users, 28% of tablet users, and 26% of computer users say they post to social media about TV commercials. In addition, 40% of tablet users, 40% of computer users, and 37% of smartphone users search for reviews of products or services shown in commercials.

The IAB study confirms some other recent research on social TV and multiscreen activities. Separately, a new global survey from Nielsen found that 33% of American TV viewers said they engage with social media while watching TV, and 62% of North Americans said they browse the Internet while watching video programming.

The IAB study also highlighted the rise of Internet-connected TV. Overall one in three Americans over the age of 18 owns a smart TV or a device that allows them to stream video to their TVs. In this group, 38% said they spend at least half their total TV viewing time watching streaming video. Interestingly 40% of connected TV owners said they consider commercials delivered with streaming video less intrusive than traditional TV ads.

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