45% of US tablet owners on device daily while watching TV

By Cory Bergman 

Nielsen published a research study today that further illustrates the deep overlap between tablets, smart phones and TVs. The study looked at how frequently tablet and smart phone owners use their devices while watching TV across the US, UK, Germany and Italy. In the US, 88% of tablet owners and 86% of smart phone owners say they used it at least once over the last 30 days while watching TV. But the daily numbers stand out even more: 45% and 41% respectively. To the charts:

Activity in the UK nearly mirrors the US, with Germany and Italy lagging a bit behind.

Given the incredible growth of tablets and the fact that 50% of Americans now own smart phones, these numbers add up to a large audience (and Nielsen says this study was conducted in Q4). For the first time in TV history, there’s hardware scale around an interactive device, which helps explain why so many second-screen startups are battling it out for attention.

So what are people doing on their second screens? In our story yesterday, Nielsen’s Deirdre Bannon provided some numbers. The predominate activity is email, but 42% looked up information corresponding to the show they’re watching, and 30% looked up more details about a commercial. And 50% were on a social network of one kind or another.

By the way, we collect all these social TV research studies under our “research” tab.