Study: In-home TV viewing still dominates

Fri, 03/27/2009 - 12:08pm
Traci Patterson

Younger baby boomers (those ages 45-54) consume the most video media – more than 9 1/2 hours per day – and traditional or “live” TV remains the proverbial “800-pound gorilla” in the video media market, according to a study conducted by the Council for Research Excellence (CRE).

The Video Consumer Mapping (VCM) study found that, on average, all other age groups were strikingly similar to younger baby boomers, with roughly 8 1/2 hours of video media consumed daily, although the composition and duration of devices used by the respective groups throughout the day varied.

The research also found that:

  • Contrary to some recent popular media coverage suggesting that more Americans are rediscovering "free TV" via the Internet, computer video tends to be quite small, with an average time of just 2 minutes (a little more than 0.5 percent) per day.
  • Despite the proliferation of computers, video-capable mobile phones and similar devices, TV in the home still commands the greatest amount of viewing, even among those ages 18-24. Thus, in the eyes of the researchers, this appears to dispute a common belief that Internet video and mobile phone video exposure among that group (and the next one up, ages 25-34) were significant in 2008.
  • Even in major metropolitan areas where commute times can be long and drive-time radio remains popular, computer use has replaced radio as the No. 2 media activity. Radio is now No. 3 and print media fourth.
  • TV users were exposed to, on average, 72 minutes per day of TV ads and promos – again dispelling a commonly held belief that modern consumers are channel-hopping, or otherwise avoiding most of the advertising in the programming they view.
  • Early DVR owners spent much more time with DVR playback than newer DVR owners. At the same time, DVR playback was even more likely than live TV to be the sole medium.
  • "Environmental" exposure outside of the home, while still relatively small at just 2.8 percent of total video consumption today, could nearly double during the next few years. Currently, measurement of these screens is only just beginning, with programs such as Nielsen On-Location Media and Nielsen Online, though they may be given more importance soon given their growing and strategic advertising role.

"What differentiates this study from all other attempts to measure video exposure at the consumer level is its scale, the range of media covered, and the fact that it is focused on consumers first and the media second. It’s not a study about TV or the Web or any other medium – it’s about how, where, how often and for how long consumers are exposed to all media," said Mike Bloxham, director of insight and research for Ball State's Center for Media Design (CMD), which was selected to lead the project, in large part because of its previous success with the Middletown Media Studies I and II.

The VCM study is the largest and most extensive observational study of media usage ever conducted, according to the CRE.

Observers of the study recorded consumer exposure to visual content presented on any of four categories of screens: traditional television (including live TV, as well as DVD/VCR and DVR playback); computer (including Web use, e-mail, instant messaging, and stored or streaming video); mobile devices (including Web use, text messaging and mobile video); and "all other screens" (including display screens in out-of-home environments, in-cinema movies and other messaging, as well as GPS navigation units).

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•  Study: In-home TV viewing still dominates
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