The television attention deficit trend has accelerated -- when advertisers believe that consumers are watching, they're probably not.
Americans increased their overall media usage and media multitasking according to the latest market study by The Nielsen Company, which tracks consumption across TV, Internet and mobile phones.
In the last quarter of 2009, simultaneous use of the Internet while watching TV reached three and a half hours a month, up 35 percent from the previous quarter. Nearly 60 percent of TV viewers now use the Internet once a month while also watching TV.
"The rise in simultaneous use of the web and TV gives the viewer a unique on-screen and off-screen relationship with TV programming," said Nielsen Company media product leader Matt O'Grady.
Each week, on average, Americans watched (figuratively speaking, only paying attention sometimes) roughly 35 hours of linear TV programming and two hours of time-shifted TV via a DVR.
The growth in viewing is due to a number of factors: The DVR brings added convenience while high definition programming and flat-screen TVs have boosted the quality of the experience. Digital delivery, via cable or satellite, is delivering more channels and more choice to the home than ever before.
DVRs, now found in 35 percent of American households, continue to gain popularity. Those age 25-34 watch nearly three hours a week of time-shifted TV, while those age 65 and older watch just more than an hour.
Online video consumption is up 16 percent from last year. Of note, approximately 44 percent of all online video is being viewed in the workplace. The research shows that Americans watch network programs online when they miss an episode or when a TV is not available.
Active mobile video users grew by 57 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009, from 11.2 million to 17.6 million. Much of this increase can be linked to the strong growth of smartphones in the marketplace.