Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Surveys Show Battle for Screen Time Heating Up

Posted by Guest Writer - December 24, 2010

By Intel Free Press
Analysis from two recent research reports show what many of us already know - that people are spending less time with offline media such as radio, newspapers and magazines. But a side-by-side comparison of these surveys reveal conflicting results about where people are spending more of their precious time: in front of the TV or engaging with the Internet.

According to a study released last week by Forrester, North Americans are spending 13 hours a week online and the same amount of time watching TV, while eMarketer reports that the average adult is spending 30 hours per week watching TV compared to an average of 18 hours per week.

"While consumer usage of digital platforms is growing at a rapid pace, television is still consumers' most-used media channel," said Haixia Wang, forecasting director at eMarketer, in a blog post found on her company's blog.

Both reports show the growth of Internet popularity rising faster than that of TV's, indicating that people are spending more time in front of computer and mobile device screens than ever before.

One recent study said people are now spending an equal amount of time surfing the Internet and watching TV, another seemed to say TV was still king.

eMarketer estimates that time spent online grew 6 percent this year, compared to a 1 percent decline in time spent watching TV. Forrester discovered dramatically different results; time spent watching TV has climbed 5 percent while time engaged online shot up 120 percent since 2005.

Just over 6 hours a week are spent offline tuned into radio, which has declined by 15 percent since 2005, according to Forrester. Less than 3 hours are spent reading newspapers, down 26 percent in the past 5 years. And time spent reading print magazines is now at 2 hours per week, a decline of 18 percent since 2005.

According to another eMarketer report published in The Wall Street Journal this week, this is the first year that advertisers will spend more money on Internet ads than on print newspaper ads, reaching an estimated $25.8 billion online versus $22.8 billion on print in the U.S.

As more people sign up for broadband connections at home and wireless Internet service in their laptops, it would appear that PCs and mobile device could soon become the screens of choice for staying current with the world and with what's important in people's lives, especially if researchers factored in on-the-job time spent connecting to the Internet.

Forrester's report showed that the top activity for most people online is shopping, while Facebook has become one of the fastest-growing attractions online.

Another growth area bringing more people to the Internet is mobile technology. According to eMarketer, time spent on such mobile devices as smartphones and tablets grew 28 percent in 2010 to reach an average of 50 minutes per day. Meanwhile, time spent reading print magazines and newspapers decreased 9 percent in 2010.

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