Nielsen: Most U.S. tablet owners use their device while watching TV

There’s been avid interest among private equity in TV “check-in” start-ups like GetGlue and Shazam — and this may be one reason why: New research from Nielsen found that 88 percent of U.S. tablet owners use their devices while they watch television.

Nielsen conducted the research in the U.S., U.K. Germany and Italy. Usage of mobile devices to check email or use the internet to further explore commercial messaging was highest in the U.S., and lowest in Germany and Italy.  Nielsen didn’t say what the sample size for the survey was.
In America, some 86 percent of smartphone owners say they use their their phones as a second screen at least some of the time. Among U.S. tablet owners, 26 percent describe their second-screen behavior as fairly avid, checking in several times a day (only 12 percent of surveyed Germans describe this kind of heavy use).
The data bodes well for a handful of start-ups that are trying to extend TV advertising into interactive social media activity being conducted by viewers as they watch traditional television. To date, none of these services has registered massive usage, but their numbers are growing, And as evidenced by brand participation during the Super Bowl two months ago, advertisers including Pepsi and General Motors are interested in nascent medium.