LONDON: Increasing numbers of British consumers access social networks while watching TV, with these two channels seemingly enjoying a complementary, rather than competitive, relationship.

Deloitte, the consultancy, and GFK, the survey firm, polled 4,000 adults, and found the typical viewer spends 118 hours watching TV each month, measured against 3.3 hours utilising social networks.

Half of respondents simultaneously watch television and surf the net, and of this group, 54% visit platforms like Facebook and Google+ while consuming broadcast content in the traditional fashion.

Internet shopping recorded 45% on this metric, ahead of communications tools such as email, instant messaging and Skype, on 40%.

By contrast, 30% of the panel "regularly communicate" on Facebook or Twitter alongside watching television, and just 13% "always" or "frequently" use mobile apps in this manner.

Exactly 31% of people exposed concurrently to TV and the web thought logging on to social networks in this way made watching television a more "communal" experience.

However, 23% stated they were "distracted" from programmes by their activity on sites like Twitter.

A 54% majority of the sample often talk about TV shows with someone in the same room, potentially equating to millions of conversations, but even the most popular content only secures "tens of thousands of tweets", Deloitte added.

Elsewhere, the study revealed 63% of participants have "never" discovered a new TV show through a social network, meaning trailers remain the most reliable method of raising awareness.

This is even true for 18-24 year olds, 46% of which found out about new programmes from a trailer, falling to 19% for social networks.

Overall, 54.5m people watched television in May 2011, consuming a combined 6.4bn hours of content, while Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posted a combined usage time of 182m hours.

More specifically, the aggregate amount of time spent on Facebook rose by 13% over the year to May 2011, hitting 178m hours, during which period total TV viewing climbed by 6% to reach 6.4bn hours.

As such, if TV maintained current viewing levels and Facebook continued its growth trajectory, ten years will elapse before the social network clocks 10% of the time spent watching television.

Data sourced from Deloitte; additional content by Warc staff