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Commercial Break? Many Just Reach for Another Device

Nearly half of internet users say they use a smartphone while watching TV

October 10, 2017 | Media Buying

Many people use another device, primarily a smartphone, while simultaneously watching TV. And for the most part, they do so during commercial breaks, according to a June 2017 study from Adobe Digital Insights (ADI).

Indeed, out of the 1,000 internet users surveyed, many were more likely to reach for another device when a commercial break came on as opposed to doing so while watching a TV program.

US Internet Users Who Use Another Device Simultaneously While Watching TV Programs vs. During Commercial Breaks, by TV Category, June 2017 (% of respondents)

For example, when a commercial came on during a TV talk show, nearly half of respondents said they reached for another device. While watching the actual show, only 38% said they use another device. The pattern was similar for other types of programming as well.

The study from ADI echoes previous reports about consumers’ multitasking habits while watching TV.

A March 2017 survey from Tremor Video and Hulu—looking at the various activities US connected TV users perform while watching TV—found that across the age spectrum, most tend to go on social media.

When it came to other activities, like texting or gaming, younger respondents (ages 14 to 21) were more likely to participate than their older counterparts.

Another March study, this one from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), also examined how multidevice users behave while watching TV. Generally speaking, their behaviors didn’t vary that much, whether the device they used to multitask was a computer, a smartphone or a tablet. Most respondents used these devices to browse the internet, check their email or to check social media.

—Rimma Kats

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