US presidential debates this autumn was watched more closely than perhaps ever before, because people were instantly taking on Twitter to provide their own critiques.
It also makes for some conflicting information: Twitter buzzed with complaints last summer about US broadcaster NBC’s policy of airing many Olympics events from London on tape delay in the US, yet ratings for the prime time Olympics telecast soared.
The increase in people watching television and commenting about it online would seem to run counter to another big trend this autumn: more people recording programs and watching them later. Those contrary trends both increase the value of live event programming such as awards shows or sporting events.
The Nielsen study also found 35 per cent of people who used tablets while watching TV looked up information online about the program they were watching. A quarter of tablet owners said they researched coupons or deals for products they saw advertised on television.
As rapid as the use of social media while on television is growing in the US, it already lags behind other countries. Nielsen said that 63 per cent of people in the Middle East or Africa report using social media while on TV, and 52 per cent of people in Latin America.