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40 Per Cent of Americans Are Second Screeners

Alex Spencer

39 per cent of American smartphone owners use their device while watching TV at least once a day, according to a Nielsen report. Nearly twice that many engage in second screen behaviour multiple times a week (62 per cent) and on a monthly basis, that number is as high as 84 per cent.

The number is slightly higher on tablets – understandable given their lean-back nature – and tablets skew older, with 25-34 and 55-64 year olds being the most likely to use the devices for second screening, than smartphones, with nearly half of 18-25 year olds watching TV with a smartphone in hand on a daily basis.

But what exactly are these second screeners up to on their devices? Luckily, Nielsen has got this covered too – 36 per cent of 35-54 year olds, and 44 per cent of 55-64 year olds, use their tablet to dive deeper into the program they are currently watching. Meanwhile, a third of tablet users aged 25-64 use the device to check sports scores.

Single screening

The report also looks at users watching video on their mobile, compared to traditional linear TV. The average amount of time users spend watching video on mobile is 5 hours, 20 minutes, per month, compared to nearly 145 hours of traditional TV. 

That gap only widens as users get older, with people aged over 65 watching 206 hours of TV a month on average, compared to less than three and a half hours of mobile video. Meanwhile, among 12-17 year olds, mobile TV viewing is at its highest – seven hours, 10 minutes –  and traditional TV at its lowest – 98 hours.

Nielsen also points out that smartphone penetration in the US is highest among ethnic minorities with 62 per cent of African Americans, 60 per cent of Hispanics and 70 per cent of Asians, which it says is because the devices offer a gateway to internet connectivity to those without regular access to a computer.