Friday, December 15, 2006

RESEARCH: Americans spend more time on media than anything else

By the Numbers

65 days
Watching television, up from 61 days in 2000

41 days
Listening to the radio, up from 39 days in 2000

8.1 days
On the Internet, up from 4.3 days in 2000

7.3 days
Reading newspapers, down from 8.4 days in 2000

9.5 days
Reading books and magazines, down from 10 days in 2000



Consumption of media rising for Americans

By Stephen Ohlemacher
The Associated Press

December 15, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Americans spend more time watching TV, listening to the radio, surfing the Internet and reading newspapers than anything else, except breathing.

Media use has risen every year since the start of the decade, helped by faster and easier ways to get information and entertainment, according to statistics in a new government report.

Next year, Americans are projected to spend more than 9 1/2 hours a day with the media, though hours spent doing two things at once, such as watching TV and using the Internet, are counted twice in the report.

"There are more TVs than people and there's a TV, in many houses, in every room," said Patricia McDonough, senior vice president at Nielsen Media Research. "For teenagers, being on the Internet and watching TV at the same time are not mutually exclusive."

Americans spend an average of 4 1/2 hours a day watching television, far more time than they spend on any other medium. Next come the radio and the Internet. Reading newspapers is fourth, passed this year by Internet use.

McDonough said an increasing variety of cable TV channels has cut into broadcast viewers, but it has helped increase overall viewership.

"Before, if you looked at kids' TV programming, it was on Saturday morning," McDonough said. "Now there is always targeted programming available for anyone in the household."

McDonough said she expects overall viewership to continue increasing as baby boomers get older. The oldest of the post-World War II generation turned 60 this year. "People who are 50 watch TV more than people who are 20," McDonough said. "That will continue to drive this."

The data on media use are part of the Census Bureau's annual Statistical Abstract of the United States, a 999-page book of numbers quantifying just about every aspect of American life, to be released today. The Census Bureau assembles the statistics from government and private sources so researchers, academics and businesses can find them in one place.

Many of the media numbers are from the Communications Industry Forecast & Report by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a private equity firm serving the media industry. Next year, Americans are projected to spend an average of 3,518 hours using the media. That's up from 3,333 at the start of the decade.

The number of hours projected for next year in different categories:

--1,555 hours watching television, up from 1,467 in 2000. The estimate includes 678 hours watching broadcast TV and 877 watching cable and satellite.

--974 hours listening to the radio, up from 942 in 2000.

--195 hours using the Internet, up from 104.

--175 hours reading daily newspapers, down from 201.

--122 hours reading magazines, down from 135.

--106 hours reading books, down an hour.

--86 hours playing video games, up from 64.

Many people use multiple electronic devices at once, increasing media consumption, said Leo Kivijarv, vice president of research at PQ Media, a research firm. Also, new technologies make it easier to use electronic devices just about anywhere, from wireless Internet in airports to iPods and DVD players in automobiles, he said. "We're not limited to just watching and using media in the home, as we were the past," Kivijarv said.


How will you spend your time next year?

About 5 months of it will be used for consuming media, according to new
statistical projections


Posted: Dec. 14, 2006

You are an American and you surf the Internet, listen to music, watch television (oh, boy, do you watch TV), play video games and even read books, magazines and that old standby called a newspaper.In addition to watching TV, Americans will get their media fix in several ways in the coming year, often using more than one at a time, according to new data.

It turns out that in 2007, American adults and teens will spend an estimated 3,518 hours - or nearly five months each - and $936.75 a person in media consumption. Those numbers are provided in a communications industry forecast that is included in the U.S. Census Bureau's "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007."

The book is released today. It provides a snapshot of America by the numbers, everything from population to politics to the economic facts and figures of a country in constant change.

But of the more than 1,400 charts and tables included in the book, the most provocative numbers might be the ones under "Media Usage and Consumer Spending: 2000 to 2009." The numbers are so stunning that the U.S. Census Bureau highlighted them in a news release to announce the publication of the 126th annual statistical abstract.

The bureau's news release notes "people will spend 65 days in front of the TV, 41 days listening to radio and a little over a week on the Internet in 2007. Adults will spend about a week reading a daily newspaper, and teens and adults will spend another week listening to recorded music." The data comes from "Communications Industry Forecast," an annual report issued by New York-based private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

"You don't sleep, you don't work, you're just consuming media," quipped James Rutherford, the firm's executive vice president. Rutherford explained how it is possible that Americans can consume nearly 10 hours of media daily, while sleeping eight hours and working another eight hours.

Call it multitasking.

"One of the things to realize about that number is that it is not 10 consecutive hours a day; there are several of these hours spent in tandem," he said. "If you drive to work, you drive listening to a radio and drive by a billboard and you consume two media. You might be sitting at home, listening to music, watching television, flipping through a magazine, and you might even surf the Internet with music or TV on in the background."

Rutherford said the country is certainly a "TV-addicted society," but even those numbers are changing, with viewers projected to log more time with cable and satellite TV (877 hours) and less time with broadcast TV (678 hours). In the future, Rutherford said, "mobile media," which includes ring tones for cell phones and alerts for scores of sporting events, is going to "grow the fastest."

"You'll have little short videos that will be broadcast over a mobile network, and people can see the latest funny dropped pass or the big play from a sports event," he said.

Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, said he was surprised Americans don't consume even more media. "If you try to find the times in your life where you are completely media-free, it is very unusual," he said. "Public space is almost completely awash in media."

Want to unplug from media? Good luck, Thompson said. "You're going to have to make a real effort to do that," he said. "You could make the argument that we're being bombarded by media 24 hours a day. At any given time, you've got cell phone signals, satellite signals literally in the air 24 hours a day."


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