Nielsen: Internet a complementary medium to TV

Mon, 11/03/2008 - 7:15am
Traci Patterson

Watching TV and watching online video are complementary activities, according to the Nielsen Co.’s new TV/Internet Convergence Panel, which electronically TV and online video are complementary activitiesmeasures both TV and Internet usage in the same homes.

The panel found that the heaviest Internet users are also among the heaviest TV watchers – the top one-fifth of Internet users spend more than 250 minutes watching TV per day, compared with 220 minutes of TV viewing by those who do not use the Internet at all. In turn, the lowest consumers of TV have the lowest usage levels for the Internet, the panel found.

According to Nielsen, nearly 31 percent of in-home Internet activity takes place while the user is watching TV, “demonstrating that there is a significant amount of simultaneous Internet and television usage.” On the other hand, about 4 percent of TV viewing occurs when the consumer is also using the Internet.

Other findings from Nielsen’s TV/Internet Convergence Panel include:

  • Roughly 50 percent of the panelists had viewed some streaming content online. The demographics streaming the most included Female Teens (82 percent), Male Teens (64 percent), Men 18-34 (57 percent) and Men 35-54 (55 percent).
  • Nearly 60 percent of panelists, and more than 80 percent of people who watched TV and used the Internet that month, had simultaneous sessions – watching TV and being online at the same minute. This group tends to be very heavy users of both TV and the Internet.
  • Teens are the most likely demographic to have simultaneous TV/Internet usage, but Adults 35-54 have the most simultaneous usage minutes.

“With our convergence panel, we can now, for the first time, observe what could only be guessed at before – how television viewing and Internet usage interact and affect each other,” said Howard Shimmel, senior vice president of client insights for Nielsen. “It is too early to draw any firm conclusions about behavior, but the early trends seem to indicate that online usage is complementing, not substituting for, traditional television viewing. We will be watching this trend carefully to see how television viewing drives Internet usage and visa versa.”

The panel sample consisted of nearly 3,000 people in more than 1,000 households who were either previously part of Nielsen’s live national TV sample and agreed to continue to be monitored by Nielsen, or new homes installed specifically for convergence research.

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