The Emarketer research on media conumption amongst US adults released yesterday makes interesting reading.
- Time spent online continues to grow, I imagine driven by gaming and social networking
- Time spent watching TV is slightly down but is still by far the largest category – not enough to call a trend, but maybe an indicator of where things are heading
- The era of mobile is now definitively upon us – the average American spent as long staring at her mobile as she did reading newspapers and magazines combined
I expect all these trends to continue – continued growth in online gaming and social networking will drive time spent online (and we may even be approaching the end of the console era) and increasing smartphone penetration and quality will get us all using our mobiles even more. Both of these will take time away from TV, and at some point the shift from time online to mobile will become noticeable.
The only caveat is that with connected TVs going mass market, a 2011-2012 phenomenon, people will likely watch less video on their laptops, preferring instead to watch their movie and TV streaming services on their TVs.
Finally a note on data quality. I think this research is useful and I believe in the trends I’ve described, but I am suspect about the absolute levels reported and even the ratios between the different categories, largely because these are not apples for apples comparisons. Most obviously, people often have their TVs and radios on in the background when they are hardly paying attention – time that counts in this survey but isn’t the same as an hour spent online, and hence I suspect the TV and radio figures are over-stated. Secondly, time spent online is not all about consuming media in the way that reading a book is.