The Internet is fast becoming an interactive--if not quite aerobic--diversion for legions of couch potatoes, according to research to be released today by Showtime Networks Inc.
Nearly one in five U.S. households reports watching television and using the Internet simultaneously, according to the January study. That statistic, which equates to roughly 18 million "convergent" households, has risen 80% since December, 1997, according to Showtime.
"Even without the presence of programming that is specifically designed to initiate it, we are seeing the natural integration of television and the Internet," said Mark Greenberg, executive vice president for Showtime, which operates three premium cable TV channels.
Households that subscribe to premium cable or satellite services are 30% to 50% more likely to combine channel surfing and Web surfing, according to the study, which was conducted by Ascolese Associates, an independent research company.