TV Viewing Dropping as Digital Use Rises

People are spending more time consuming media but despite a rise in multitasking, usage of traditional media, including television, is falling, according to a new report from media buyer ZenithOptimedia.

In the U.S., the average number of minutes consuming media per individual is expected to rise to 620.4 minutes per day, up 0.4%, close to the high of 620.8 minutes set in 2012. By 2017, Zenith expects daily consumption to continue to rise, reaching 625.3 minutes per day in 2017.

Usage of traditional television is in decline. Consumers viewed 325.4 minutes per day on TV sets in 2010. In 2014 it was 308.1 minutes and Zenith forecasts consumption falling 3% to 299.6 minutes this year and dropping to 289.1 by 2017.
Those numbers do not include TV being watching on computer screens, tablets or smartphones, so the figures underestimate to influence TV has.

Instead Zenith attributes most digital viewing to its internet category, which is growing rapidly, from 85.9 minutes per day of consumption in 2010 to 154.9 minutes in 2014. Zenith expects consumption on the Internet to rise 11% to 172 minutes in 2015 and 199.8 minute in 2017.

The trend toward more consumption is not necessarily a good thing for media owners and advertisers. “Overall media consumption is increasing, largely as a result of increased multi-tasking. Consumers regularly have their mobile phones and tablets by their side as they consume traditional media, which can result in less engagement with media, but more overall time spent,” Zenith said in its report.

“Traditional media channels such as TV, radio, newspapers and magazines are all experiencing gradual declines in both time spent and share of overall media time owing to the growing levels of online and mobile consumption,” the agency said.
The global trend is similar, according to Zenith, which looked at media consumption in 65 countries.

Around the world people spend more than eight hours a day with media. That’s 492 minutes in 2015, up 1.4% from 485 minutes in 2015.

From 2010 to 2014, global media consumption rose an average of 1.2% a year, while the amount of time people spent using the Internet nearly doubled. Internet usage jumped to 109.5 minutes from 59.6 minutes over those years. At the same time usage of traditional media dropped to 375.8 minutes from 402.2 minutes.

“Mobile technology in particular has created new opportunities to consume media, by allowing people to access the internet while out and about – shopping, commuting to work, waiting to meet friends, and so on,” the report says.

But traditional media—other than outdoor-- is taking a hit globally as well. Any time that consumers spend with broadcasters’ and publishers’ online brand extensions is included in the internet total, making the shift of media consumption toward digital appear more pronounced.

“Despite its recent, relatively minor, decline, television remains by far the most popular of all media globally,” Zenith said TV draws 183.9 minutes of consumption a day in 2014. The Internet was a distant second at 109.5 minutes a day. Television accounted for 42.4% of global media consumption in 2010, and 37.9% in 2014. Zenith forecast that TV will account for 34.7% in 2017.

Media consumption is highest in Latin America, where people spent an average of 744 minutes, according to Zenith. It is lowest in Asia Pacific, where consumption averaged just 301 minutes that year, the agency said.

Zenith said time spent consuming media in Asia Pacific is growing well ahead of the global average, however, as economic development gives people access to more media, and more leisure time in which to consume them: media consumption expanded by 6.7% in 2014, and we forecast average annual growth of 2.9% to 2017.

“The average person already spends half their waking life consuming media. But people around the world are clearly hungry for even more opportunities to discover information, enjoy entertainment and communicate with each other, and new technology is supplying these opportunities. Jonathan Barnard, head of forecasting at ZenithOptimedia, said in a statement.

“Technology also enables brands to communicate with and learn from consumers in new ways. We expect media consumption to continue to grow for the foreseeable future, multiplying the opportunities for brands to develop relationships with consumers,” Barnard added.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.