TV, mobile see gains in US viewing time

Despite an increasing fixation with all things digital – including online video viewing, leading to fears of ‘cord-cutting’ – 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 per cent and 30 per cent, 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 per cent jump from 2010 helped propel it past the one-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 versus just 44 minutes.

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 per cent share of adults’ media time each day, but less than one per cent 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.

On the flip side, newspapers and magazines continue to command ad dollars far ahead of their importance in consumers’ day. Part of this reflects 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.

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.

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