TV, Mobile See Gains in Viewing Time - eMarketer

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TV, Mobile See Gains in Viewing Time

US adults spend more time with mobile than print magazines and newspapers combined

December 12, 2011

Despite an increasing fixation with all things digital—including online video viewing—US adults are still watching more and more traditional TV, whether it’s live or recorded on a DVR or DVD, eMarketer estimates. The average adult consumer spends 4 hours and 34 minutes each day watching TV and video on a traditional television set this year, up 10 minutes from last year.

Time spent with the internet and mobile phones was also up—by 7.7% and 30%, respectively—and while adults are spending less time than last year with radio and print publications, the increases to TV and digital also mean an increase in total time spent with media, to 11 hours and 33 minutes.

Mobile’s 30% jump from 2010 helped propel it past the 1-hour mark, but also means that US adults now spend more time with their mobile phones than with print magazines and newspapers combined, at 1 hour and 5 minutes vs. just 44 minutes.

Average Time Spent per Day with Major Media by US Adults, 2011 (hrs:mins)

eMarketer forms its estimates of time spent with media based on a meta-analysis of data from dozens of research sources, including survey and study data. TV and video includes any type of video watched on a traditional TV set, while all online video activities are included in the internet category. Time spent with each medium is averaged across the whole US adult population, not just users of the respective medium. Time spent with each medium also includes all time spent with that medium, regardless of multitasking, so an hour of watching TV while simultaneously on the internet is considered an hour of each activity.

Shifts in ad spending remain behind the shifting consumption patterns of the US population. While TV is unquestionably getting its fair share of dollars, the amount of ad spending going toward digital does not yet reflect the amount of time consumers have invested in these areas of their lives. Mobile, for example, has a more than 10% share of adults’ media time each day, but less than 1% of ad dollars. While much time spent on mobile is on communication activities that marketers would be wise not to interrupt (such as phone calls), it is also an underused touchpoint.

Share of Average Time Spent per Day with Select Media by US Adults vs. US Ad Spending Share, 2011 (% of total)

On the flip side, newspapers and magazines continue to command ad dollars far ahead of their importance in consumers’ day. Part of this is due to the cost of advertising—glossy magazine ads and full-page newspaper spreads command higher rates than much digital advertising. But it also indicates that the revenue troubles for print will likely continue as advertisers follow eyeballs and continue to pull spending from these media.

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Check out today’s other article, “Most Facebook Users Don’t Understand Privacy Settings.”


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