LONDON: Consumers are increasingly combining watching TV with using the internet, and particularly social networks, a multimarket study has found.

Ovum, the research firm, polled 8,000 broadband subscribers in eight countries - France, Germany, Japan, India, the Netherlands, Spain the UK and US - to gauge evolving attitudes and habits.

In all, 74% of interviewees reported that they occasionally surfed the net and watched television at the same time, while 37% regularly engaged in this activity.

Japan was among the nations where this pastime has proved especially common, as 76% of the sample participated in such simultaneous media use.

India also witnessed a relatively high uptake of concurrent exposure to TV and the web, although the digital audience is "weighted" towards early adopters at present.

Elsewhere, 51% of respondents went online to access further information regarding the broadcast material they were viewing, rising to 59% for 16-23 year olds.

Meanwhile, 38% of the entire panel used social networks to talk about television shows, again hitting a peak of 53% for 16-23 year olds.

Some geographical variation occurred in this area, according to Ovum, with Japan observing a lower incidence of "social TV" activity, partly because consumer interest in social networks has been less enthusiastic than some other featured markets.

Turning to commercials, 35% of contributors utilised the internet to look for details concerning products they had seen advertised on television while engaged in simultaneous media use.

Michael Philpott, a principal analyst at Ovum, argued that the apparent convergence between the web and TV requires broadcasters to take an integrated approach.

"On the negative side, increased adoption of more personal internet connected devices, and our growing reliance on and interest in internet applications, have reached such a level that they are diverting our attention away from the TV," he said.

"However, on a more optimistic note, there are a number of applications currently being developed that ... tie the TV and social networking sessions together, creating a new, fuller, and more interactive TV experience."

Data sourced from Ovum; additional content by Warc staff