Internet Taking Bite Out of Television Usage

Television viewing in Internet households is significantly less than in non-online households, regardless of how long they have been online, according to a study by Nielsen Media Research for America Online.

On average, households with Internet access watch 13 percent less television than households that are not online. That works out to an estimated 32 hours less of television viewing monthly per household.

The study also found that television consumption in households new to the Internet is also lower. Households with Internet access for six months or less watch 10 percent less television than non-online households.

The findings of the study are consistent with previous findings by Nielsen and America Online in January 1997 and August 1998, despite a growth in the size of the market. In less than 24 months, the number of US households with Internet access has increased roughly 60 percent, according to Jupiter Communications.

“As the percentage of mass market consumers coming online steadily increases, we’re seeing that television consumption among wired households continues to remain consistent — at one hour less per day,” said Paul Lindstrom, VP of Nielsen Media Research. “Even more significant is the relationship between television viewing and Internet usage among households new to the online medium. This new research indicates that, even among those people who are new to online, television viewing is lower than among those who are not online.”

Consistent with the 1997 and 1998 research, the study also found that Internet households watch less television across key dayparts than households without access. Specifically:

  • During late afternoon, or Monday to Friday between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., television usage is 17 percent lower among the online households
  • During early fringe, or Monday to Friday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., television usage is 14 percent lower among the online households
  • During the prime time daypart, or Monday through Friday between 8 and 11 p.m., television usage is 6 percent lower among the online households
  • During late fringe, or Monday through Friday between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., television usage is 7 percent lower among the online households

The survey was conducted in January of 1999, traditionally one of the highest-rated months for television usage. Nielsen monitored the television and Internet usage of 5,000 members of its People Meter sample. The sample consisted of households with Internet access, households new to the Internet, and households without Internet access.

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