TV and Internet use overlap

Nearly a third of all U.S. household Internet activity takes place while the user watches television, suggesting new and old media often share rather than compete for attention, the Nielsen Company reports.

In fact, the study found that heavy Internet users are among the most dedicated of TV viewers, spending more than 250 minutes a day in front of the TV, compared with the 220 minutes of television watched by people who never go online.

The findings would appear to be good news for broadcasters who worry the Internet is siphoning away viewers, and with them advertising dollars. It also helps explain the apparent paradox between rising TV viewership overall and the growing popularity of new media.

“TV usage is at an all-time high, and yet there’s a lot more people using the Internet, and where does the time go, and part of the answer is that it’s happening simultaneously,” Nielsen's Gary Holmes said.

The report, the first of its kind by Nielsen’s media measuring service, was based on a sample of 3,000 people in more than 1,000 households during the month of May.

Average TV viewership still dwarfs online activity in the home — 127 hours vs. 26 hours per month among those who use the Internet, with video “streaming” on the Web accounting for just two hours and 19 minutes.

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