Smartphones and tablets are becoming as much a part of watching TV as slumping on the sofa, and advertisers and broadcasters are beginning to capitalise.
Do you find your Samsung Galaxy S3 sneaking into your hand while you’re watching Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents? Does your iPad always find its way onto your lap while you’re sat down in front of Downton Abbey? Yes? Well you’re a second screener.
You’re far from alone - one in three of us now use a smartphone while watching TV on a traditional television set, and over one in 10 of us use a tablet, according to a study of UK viewing habits by broadband comparison service broadbandchoices.co.uk.
Despite laptops being the most popular device to use while watching TV, second screening as a habit has developed because of the growth in popularity of smartphones and tablets, according to David Pierce, senior reviews editor at technology news network The Verge.
“These devices are so much more amenable to being used on the couch while you relax and watch TV, and they've found a place next to us that our laptop never occupied,” he explains.
The survey of 2,000 people also revealed we use mainly use these ‘second screens’ to check and send email and use social networking websites while watching TV, with one in ten of us using them to engage with what we’re watching, whether that’s through a text message or Twitter.
A report published by Twitter earlier in the month showed talking about what we’re watching on TV is a major reason why we use a second screen. It found 60% of the 10 million active Twitter users in the UK use the social network on a laptop, mobile or tablet while watching TV.
“TV is the subject of multiple conversations, whether online or offline, so talking about TV programmes is an extension of this,” saysPaul Lee, director of technology, media and telecommunications at financial services firm Deloitte. “Social networks are just another way of talking about what we want to talk about.”
Broadcasters and advertisers have clocked this and are already developing ways of diverting our attention away from reading the news on our second screen while watching TV - which two in five of us do - to engaging more with what we’re watching through our second screen.
“Broadcasters are already very proactive in researching and developing ideas in this area - they realise the future is connected TV and no channel can afford to be left behind,” says Kate Russell, reporter for BBC technology TV show Click and author of internet business book Working the Cloud.
So there you have - the next time a fellow couch potato tells you off for swiping your smartphone or tapping at your tablet, you can tell them you’re watching TV the way it will soon be made to be watched.