1997 called and wants its study back

By Adam L. Penenberg , written on January 29, 2013

From The News Desk

A new study commissioned by KPMG found that a whole lot of people access the Internet while watching TV.

Now that really puts the O in obvious, doesn’t it? Is anyone surprised that 60 percent of American television viewers multitask and watch TV while cradling an iPad or smartphone in their hands? I suppose KPMG’s next study will reveal that a certain percentage of Americans wear grimy sweatpants when they tune in to Dr. Phil and play "Angry Birds" at work with the sound off so their bosses won’t find out.

The idea that Americans watch TV at the same time they surf the Web is, of course, not new. More than 15 years ago I wrote a story for based on the same premise. Instead of KPMG, the study sponsor was Showtime. It was prompted by something that happened during the 1996 prize fight between Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno. Just before the opening bell, Showtime announcers told the pay-per-view audience that they could get on to Showtime's website and score the fight along with the judges. 30 seconds later the site crashed from the torrent of traffic.

Remember, these were the days of 28.8 baud dial-up modems over archaic phone lines and PCs that took five minutes to boot up. The only way this could have happened was if people were already online when the fight started.

The study that Showtime commissioned revealed that about half of American households with both a TV and a computer kept them in the same room, and 40 percent of PC households with Internet access regularly watched TV while they were online. So pardon me if 16 years later I can scoff at a "new" study that finds that people continue to watch TV and surf the Web.

I say we should commission our own link-bait-y studies, like:

STUDY: More people than ever use apps!

STUDY: Smartphone users rely on GPS and map functions so they won't get lost.

STUDY: Small but growing number of people use their tablets as coasters for cold drinks.

STUDY: Men consume a whole lot of porn.

STUDY: More people than ever use emoticons in text messages.

STUDY: Consumers compare prices online while shopping at big box retail stores.

STUDY: Majority of Americans can't find Mali on a map.

STUDY: Tech blogs and newspapers always happy to publish results of inane studies.

Suggest your own faux studies in the comments below. If we like them maybe we'll publish a round up later in the week.

[Image Credit: brandon king on Flickr]