According to a mid-October report from Nielsen, 40 percent of American tablet and smartphone owners use their devices while watching television.
Most of that use has nothing to do with what’s on TV. They’re checking their email, surfing for unrelated content, dropping by Facebook or Twitter, and looking up sports scores. About 30 percent of mobile users looked up information related to the show they were watching.
Among these mobile users, some are spontaneously searching for the content, while others follow prompts on the TV screen, for instance, a hashtag superimposed over the bottom left or right of the screen.
These prompts can be the name of the show or an encouragement to speak your mind about the program. Some include conversational prompts. I caught one of these on the USA network series “Covert Affairs”:
When one of the characters was shirtless in a scene, a question about whether he should be shirtless more often on the show accompanied the #covertaffairs hashtag.