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Cord-Cutting, Multitasking, and Distracted TV Viewing All Up

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With so much must-see programming available, who has time to actually watch it? New data from research company eMarketer suggests we're streaming more but actually seeing less.

First off, multitasking is on the rise, as more U.S. adults regularly use the internet while watching TV. In 2017, 162.2 million regularly use their phone while watching shows, and 110.5 million use their computer. In all, 70.3 percent of the population surfs while watching TV. eMarketer forecasts this simultaneous usage to increase over the next 2 years.

Most people who surf while watching TV look at something unrelated to their show or movie. In 2017, 131.5 million watch unrelated content while 46.2 million look for related content.

With so many online options, people in the U.S. are increasingly turning away from pay TV subscriptions. In revised estimates, eMarketer sees cord-cutting increasing through 2021. Pay TV subscribers will grow in the 55 and over age group, but decline in every other age group.

“With the average U.S. adult spending more than two hours a day on their smartphone, as well as the popularity of VOD and over-the-top services like HBO Go and Netflix being viewed via connected TV, multitasking between two or more devices continues to increase,” says eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco. “Consumers are becoming more adept at watching YouTube videos, while at the same time shopping online and browsing social media."

eMarketer's full data on simultaneous media use is for sale on its site.

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