According to eMarketer’s first forecast of simultaneous media usage, this year, 182.9 million Americans will use the internet while watching TV at least once a month, That’s 80.3% of internet users. With Americans’ attention increasingly divided among an ever-expanding array of internet-connected devices, the number of people multitasking while watching television continues to rise, while cord-cutting also accelerates.
Smartphones are the device of choice for multitaskers. This year, 146.9 million Americans will browse the web or use internet-connected apps on their phone (including chat apps) while they watch TV, representing more than two-thirds of internet users. And 68.0% of US internet users will use an internet-connected smartphone to do so. By 2018, that figure is expected to climb to 79.1%, the same year that 91.6% of internet users will use the web and TV at the same time.
US Simultaneous Internet and TV User Penetration (% of internet users)
Smartphone internet and TV users
Desktop/laptop internet and TV users
Tablet and TV users
Source: eMarketer, May 2016
Americans' TV time is becoming increasingly distracted at a time when cord-cutting is already accelerating. This year, the number of cord-cutters will grow 15.7%, causing the number of pay TV viewers to drop 0.6% from last year, losing 1.3 million pay TV viewers.
US Adult Pay TV Viewers (Millions and % Change)
Pay TV viewers (MM)
Pay TV nonviewers (MM)
Pay TV viewer growth (% Change)
Source: eMarketer, December 2015
Most people are looking at content unrelated to the TV program on their internet-connected devices while they watch TV, says the report. This year, only 25.5% of simultaneous media users will consume related content online while watching TV.
eMarketer senior analyst, Paul Verna, says “… the good news for advertisers and content owners… addressable, programmatic and cross-device advertising continue to evolve… providing marketers with better ways to reach desired audiences irrespective of device…”
Another bright spot for advertisers and content providers is that the percentage of simultaneous users consuming related content will increase. The mobile web and apps are making it increasingly easier for viewers to get more information about the show or sporting event they’re watching, such as an actor’s name or stats about their favorite team. Also, the increasing prevalence of social media and messaging apps allows people to connect with others about the TV content.
US Related Content Simultaneous Internet and TV Users and Penetration (Millions and % of Users)
Related-content Internet and TV users
Percent of simultaneous Internet and TV users
Source: eMarketer, May 2016
eMarketer forecasting analyst, Marcus Johnson, notes that “…advertisers are beginning to exploit the multitasking phenomenon… encouraging consumers to make a purchase within minutes of seeing a TV commercial… as ads become more targeted… viewers… will act on them in the moment… because of relevance to the TV program they are watching…”
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