Nearly 70% of adults in Britain go online at some point while watching television. Over 20% of 16-24 year olds say they always use the internet while watching television. A survey commissioned by video search service Blinkx suggests that of those using the web while watching television as many as 30% searched for products or services featured in programmes, while 27% searched for advertised products.

“It’s interesting to see that internet surfing is now challenging the way we watch television,” commented Suranga Chandratillake, the founder and chief executive of blinkx. “The UK no longer wants to be a nation of passive viewers. They want to find out as much information as possible and want to discover this through the internet at the same time as they are watching the content on the television.”

As well as using the internet while watching television, viewing programming online is increasingly popular. Over 50% of British adults with access to the web are watching programming online, with one in five watching full-length television shows, movies or sporting events.

News is the most popular genre, regularly viewed online by 31% of men and 22% of women with online access. Sport is watched online by 27% of men but only 8% of women. Comedy is more popular among younger adults, with 35% of 16-24 year olds watching comedy content online, compared to 16% of those over the age of 55.

Usage of the internet while watching television is even higher in the United States. A similar survey of American adults found that 75% of internet users watch online video, while 78% reported going online while watching television, with 35% doing so regularly.

40% of those using the web while watching television reported searching for products or services that appeared in or were advertised during the programme they were watching.

The online survey was conducted in February by Harris Interactive and covered a representative cross section of 2,471 adults in the United States and 2,228 users over the age of 16 in the United Kingdom.

While some proponents of interactive television and convergence have been rather dismissive of a “two-screen” approach, using both the television and the computer, it appears to have practical appeal for users, many of whom are increasingly used to multitasking.

For many, interacting while watching television using a laptop with a keyboard and a second screen may actually be easier and less intrusive than using a remote control.