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Simultaneous Viewing and Surfing Commonplace

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If you never surf the Web while watching TV, you are distinctly in the minority.

That’s according to a new study conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Yahoo, which found that three out of four Americans use the Web and TV simultaneously, and half do so every day.

Indeed, multitasking is no longer the domain of fantasy football-playing males; it is now commonplace among most demographics. In fact, more women (77 percent) claim to multitask than men (73 percent). The average multitasker spends over 2.5 hours per week using the Web and TV at the same time, and the total time spent multitasking has surged by 19 percent over the past year, according to Nielsen.

On behalf of Yahoo, Nielsen surveyed 3,417 individuals, including 490 folks who are part of the company’s "Convergence Panel." For 54 percent of the convergence inclined, the Web draws more of their attention than TV while multitasking. Thirty percent of respondents claim to be able to focus on both media equally, while 16 percent said their gaze is typically more fixated on the traditional tube.

Interestingly, even as TV networks encourage fans to log on to Web sites to further immerse themselves in shows’ online content, most Web/TV multitaskers are surfing for completely unrelated material (like checking e-mail or Facebook). According to the survey, just 7 percent of respondents said their online consumption is frequently related to the TV show or ad they are watching while simultaneously surfing the Web.

However, there is good news for networks that put big money into original programming such as high-priced scripted comedies and dramas. Frequent multitaskers tend to both watch TV and surf during news and sports programming, not their favorite crime procedural.

Per Nielsen, close to 25 percent of sports viewers also log on to the Web at the same time in a given week. Comparably, just 14 percent of drama viewers do so, and only 7 percent of comedy viewers claim to go online while watching TV.