Survey: Americans Watch TV, Not PC

Despite hype about the rise of the Internet as a TV-viewing alternative, a majority of Americans apparently aren’t turning away from their living-room TV sets, according to a new consumer survey released by RBC Capital Markets.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. households found that almost 60% have three or more TV sets in their homes, and they appear to be using them. About 53% of respondents said they are watching the same amount of television as in the past, even thought 42% said they are increasing their time surfing the Internet.

But it appears while they are spending more time accessing entertainment on the Web, that doesn’t include watching Internet TV -- 90% of respondents said they don’t watch television programs on their PC or laptop, and 75% said they don’t see that changing.

And the bad news for cable-TV providers is that about 40% of those RBC surveyed would be interested in buying TV services from their telephone company. That percentage appears to rise among consumers buying into higher-end flat-screen TV sets -- of the 73% of respondents who said they owned or wanted to buy a flat-screen TV, 48% said they would consider a telco TV service and 52% of TiVo digital-video-recorder users said they might do so.

Other interesting results included the fact six out of 10 Americans are communicating more via e-mail than telephone and 56% e-mail or instant-message friends and family more now than one year ago.

"We are spending more time at work on a computer, and then going home to our TVs and home computers at night," said Marc Harris, director of U.S. Equity Research at RBC. "Technology is dramatically changing the way we work, our choices during personal time and the way we communicate with others."

The survey also found that three in five U.S. consumers are interested in Internet-protocol TV, saying that price and choice of programming are the top two drivers influencing their TV-service decisions.