UPDATE: A reader asked how NZ's number compared internationally.
A Nielsen spokeswoman offered that in Australia 60% browse the internet as they watch TV (vs 29% in NZ).
The comparison is shaded by the fact Nielsen's Australian survey is online-only, while the New Zealand one also includes a door-to-door or "offline" component.
Nevertheless, the company regards the 60% figure as "good for indicative purposes" and a reflection of surging smart device uptake across the Tasman (last year, according to IDC, 1.67 million tablets were shipped into the Australian market, vs 203,000 for NZ - roughly a third less than Aussie if you adjust for population numbers).
A recent Nielsen US survey, which focused specifically on smart device owners, found 45% of tablet users and 41% of smartphone users simultaneously watched TV at least once a day.
I'm not sure if "so-called" smart internet TVs will ever take off , at least for interactive viewing (they have a lot of potential for simply downloading straight movie or TV content). Once you've got more than two people in the room, it's hard enough to decide on a channel, let alone argue over interactive frills. But doing some surfinig on the side, on a personal device, is clearly a happening thing worldwide.
This morning Nielsen released a report summarising New Zealand media and spending trends during 2011.
At one point it notes:
Close to one third of New Zealanders (29%) browse the internet whilst watching television and more than one quarter (26%) send text messages whilst in front of the box.
A further 28% watch television while reading the newspaper.
Certainly, for my part I seldom watch the boob tube without my tablet in hands (and, in truth, my laptop is usually balancing on the edge of the sofa as well. And if I'm trying to be more sociable and gadget-free, I tend to still be taking sly glances at my smartphone).
And, yes, I do pick up my tablet to check email, Twitter, Facebook (or surfing the web to resolve an argument about something that cropped up in a TV show) during ad breaks rather than watch the ads. That's assuming I'm not already on chase play or watching a recording; like many I watch less and less live TV.
Nielsen notes, “For media owners and advertisers alike, this provides more avenues than ever before to engage with consumers, and the key to success lies in understanding and embracing cross-platform media consumption and adapting messaging to suit various media platforms.”
You could also say it makes bloody tricky to accurately measure what's people's attention these days, or track media canibilisation trends.
RAW DATA: Read Nielsen's full "Year that was" summary here.