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Growth in Time Spent with Media Is Slowing

By 2018, growth in total time spent is expected to be a negligible 0.1%

June 6, 2016 | Media Buying

Thanks to media multitasking, US adults will squeeze an average of 12 hours, 5 minutes per day of media usage into their waking hours this year—nearly an hour more than the average in 2011. But the daily figure is now rising slowly and is expected to grow by just 3 minutes between 2016 and 2018. While mobile devices enable people to consume media content anywhere at any time, the numbers suggest a saturation point is near—and that increased time spent with one medium will tend to come at the expense of time spent with another, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “US Time Spent with Media: eMarketer’s Updated Estimates for Spring 2016.”

Average Time Spent per Day with Major Media by US Adults, 2012-2018 (hrs:mins)

Nondigital TV, despite a downward trajectory, remains the single largest part of US adults’ media day. TV time far exceeds time spent on any one component of the overall “digital” category. While digital video is on the upswing, the sum of mobile viewing and desktop/laptop viewing will be less than one-fourth the amount of time spent on nondigital TV this year, eMarketer predicts. (Note, though, that 14 of the 26 minutes per day spent with "other connected devices" in 2016 will go to digital video, as when a consumer uses a Roku device or a smart TV to access digital video content like a program on Netflix.)

It is a sign of digital video’s strength that it is the one desktop/laptop element that will grow rather than shrink through most of the forecast period. Even after an expected retreat of a minute per day of time spent in 2018, desktop/laptop video time spent will still be above the 2012 figure, at 24 minutes vs. 20 minutes. Over the same period, mobile video will add a daily 25 minutes of usage, going from 9 minutes to 34 minutes.

Average Time Spent per Day with Video by US Adults, by Device, 2016 (hrs:mins)

Even in a category as robust as digital video, though, growth has slowed and is expected to slow even more. Mobile video was one of the media posting a triple-digit increase in time spent in 2012 (218.0%) as smartphones and tablets became common household appliances. This year, by contrast, the increase will just barely make double digits (10.0%) before falling below that level in 2017 (8.5%) and 2018 (7.2%).

As noted earlier in this report, digital video—despite its brisk growth—still accounts for a small portion of time spent when compared to nondigital TV, which will garner nearly four-fifths of the time US adults spend watching video in 2016.

The emergence of digital video viewing as an increasingly mainstream activity has not reduced the average level of usage by its now-broader audience. Looking just at people who are users of digital video, eMarketer’s forecast shows time spent per day rising from 1 hour, 1 minute in 2012 to 1 hour, 39 minutes in 2016, with further (but slower) growth expected to yield a figure of 1 hour, 46 minutes in 2018.

eMarketer corporate subscription clients can view the full report here.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “US Time Spent with Media: eMarketer’s Updated Estimates for Spring 2016.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer corporate subscribers.

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