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Study: Majority of consumers watch TV and surf Web simultaneously

January 28, 2013|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • A new study from KPMG suggests that the majority of Americans now watch TV and access the Web simultaneously. However, consumers say they still prefer to watch video on the TV -- suggesting the next big disruptive technology in the living room may be the Internet-connected "smart TV," like these on display at the recent Consumer Electronics Show.
A new study from KPMG suggests that the majority of Americans now watch TV… (Joe Klamar / AFP/Getty Images )

For millions of U.S. consumers, one screen in the living room is not enough.

A new study from KPMG finds that 60% of American television viewers are devoted multitaskers, watching TV and accessing the Internet at the same time.

"We continue to see that multitasking is getting bigger and bigger," said Paul Wissmann, leader of KPMG's U.S. Media & Telecommunications practice. "It's getting to older generations as well, as there are more and more options in front of them."

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That has implications for network programmers and advertisers, which can no longer be sure which screen is drawing the viewer's eyes, Wissmann said.

Even though multiple devices vie for consumers' attention, the survey revealed that most people still prefer to watch television shows, movies and other video on the TV.  A small number of those surveyed -- just 14% -- prefer to watch video on their smartphones or tablets, the survey found.

"What this may portend is that while we keep putting our eyes on anywhere, any time [access on portable screens], it may be that we want the flexibility of the Internet on our television set," Wissmann said. 

That suggests the next big disruption in living room viewing may come from "smart TVs," those Internet-connected sets that afford the viewer access to traditional TV shows as well as online services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon.com.

"If you look at people still wanting to see things on a television -- and the fact that now, we're providing them with the flexibility that they get from their computer and mobile device on the TV -- that's a pretty interesting potential future we have out there," Wissmann said.

KPMG's findings were based on a global online survey of 9,000 people in nine countries, including the U.S., which was conducted Oct. 1-15.

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