Posted November 14, 2012 3:35 pm by with 0 comments

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In the early part of 2012, Americans spent an average of 34 hours a week in front of the TV. A small amount of that time was spent playing games and watching DVDs and an increasing number of people watched TV shows they’d previously recorded on a DVR. Still, the lion’s share, 4 hours and 18 minutes a night was devoted to live TV.

But according to the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report, many of those people weren’t just watching TV, they were also using a mobile device to multitask.

Mobile is no longer just for techies. 50% of us are walking around with smartphones and 20% of people in the US who have a TV, also have a tablet. That’s amazing.  Even more amazing, 40% of Americans use their mobile device while they watch TV every day. Yes, that’s what they’re saying, every day. (Include me in that group.) When you pull back to “at least once a month,” the number more than doubles to 85%.

Check out this graphic from Nielsen and I’ll meet you on the other side:

Looking at the “small” picture, we see that tablets are favored by folks over 25. And folks around 25 are probably unhappy about seeing their age listed on the “older” side of the graphic.

Under 25, it’s all about the smartphone, even when multitasking in front of the TV. Almost half of the users up to age 34 are communicating via social media while they watch their favorite shows. I don’t fall into that age group, but I routinely use interactive apps to promote what I’m watching on Twitter or Facebook.

What I don’t do (except on rare occasions) is use my mobile device to check email while I watch TV. I’m in the minority there because Nielsen says e-mailing is the most common activity among TV multitaskers.

A quarter of the 25-34 year olds go shopping while watching TV, that’s pretty cool while us older folks look up more information. Again, I’m with the majority. More often than not, I use my iPad to look up the names of actors I see on TV or find out more about an episode. And though I don’t watch the news, I often use my tablet to look up the answer to those awful news teasers they run between shows. You know the ones, “Crazed killer runs loose in a Southern California neighborhood. Is he outside your house? Tune in at 11:00 and find out!”

Tablet owners also use their device to check sports scores, something I do only during hockey season.

The takeaway here is that TV time is a good time to promote your product. Shoppers are relaxed, part of their brain is bored and they have the means to research and buy laying right on their lap. All you have to do is figure out how to get their attention.