Who is Watching the Second Screen?

85% of tablet owners say they watch TV with their tablets

If you own a tablet or a smartphone and like to watch TV while on it, you are not alone according to the latest study by BI Intelligence. Often called the “second screen,” your tablet or smartphone becomes an extension of your TV viewing, adding interactivity such as commenting on a show on Facebook, tweeting and adding the show’s hashtag or directly visiting the show’s website.

How popular is the second screen habit? It’s exploding! 85% of smartphone users reported second screen-linked behavior at least once a month, over 60% reported doing it on a weekly basis, and 39% are doing it daily.

Who’s doing it? Over 80% of 18-24 year-olds said they use their smartphone while watching TV and 60% of Americans with annual incomes above $50K use their phones while watching television.

These encouraging numbers have the mobile industry players racing to debut all sorts of apps that will make second screen interaction even more commonplace in our lives. Second screen is really an extension of how we’ve always interacted with our favorite TV programs, except now we do it in real time. We used to wait until work the next day to laugh again about how funny Friends or Seinfeld was the night before. Now we instantly post our thoughts to a Facebook status update or tweet to the world, all from the comfort of our couch.

Update: Here’s a great infographic that shows how tablets compliment TV viewing.

Double Update: Mitch Joel, author of CRT ALT DELETE says it’s a one screen world. Is he right? I think so. Consumers aren’t paying attention to their device, just what’s on it. We seamlessly go from watching live TV to what’s on our DVR. It’s still TV. Bring that show to bed with you on your tablet, you’re still watching TV.

By Marc Apple