Simultaneous use of Internet and TV up 35% in U.S.

In the last quarter of 2009, the amount of time Americans spent using the Internet while watching TV reached three and a half hours a month, up 35% from the previous quarter.

The results are according to The Nielsen Company’s latest Three Screen Report, which tracks consumption across TV, Internet and mobile phones.

The Nielsen report found that 59% of TV viewers now use the Internet once a month while also watching TV, up from 57.5% a year earlier.

The figures suggest that rather than substituting television viewing with time spent on the Internet, Americans are actually developing a symbiotic relationship with the two media where the viewer spends time with both media simultaneously.

“The rise in simultaneous use of the web and TV gives the viewer a unique on-screen and off-screen relationship with TV programming,” said Nielsen Company media product leader Matt O’Grady. “The initial fear was that Internet and mobile video and entertainment would slowly cannibalize traditional TV viewing, but the steady trend of increased TV viewership alongside expanded simultaneous usage argues something quite different.”

The report also found that Americans are watching more video online, more video while at the office and more from smartphones.

Online video consumption was up 16% in fourth quarter of 2009 over the previous year with approximately 44% of all online video is being viewed in the workplace.

The research found that Americans were only watching network programs online when they missed an episode or when a TV was not available. In other words online video was being used like a digital video recorder (DVR) and not typically as a replacement for watching TV.

Active mobile video users grew by 57% from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009, from 11.2 million to 17.6 million. Much of this increase says Nielsen can be linked to the strong growth of smartphones in the marketplace.

“It seems that, for the foreseeable future at least, America’s love affair with the TV will continue unabashed,” said O’Grady. “We seem to have an almost insatiable appetite for media, with online and mobile programming only adding to it.”

Download and read the complete report here. (.pdf)

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