LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Almost one third of all home Internet activity in North America takes place while the user watches television, suggesting the new and old media often share rather than compete for attention, The Nielsen Company said in a report on Friday.
In fact, the study found that heavy Internet users are among the most dedicated viewers, spending over 250 hours in front of the camera, compared with 220 hours of television viewed by people who never go on line.
The findings appear to be good news for broadcasters worry that the Internet was sent off for viewers, and with them advertising dollars. It also helps explain the apparent paradox between the increase in global television audience and the growing popularity of new media.
“TV is in the use of all-time high, yet there is a lot more people using the Internet, and where time does not go, and part of the answer is that is happening simultaneously,” said Nielsen spokesman Gary Holmes.
The report, the first of its kind for the media measurement service Nielsen, was based on a sample of 3,000 people in over 1,000 households during the month of May.
The study did not differentiate between types of Internet use by viewers, although the most popular online activity is a series of Web searches, e-mail and other forms of communication of text, as well as shopping, said Holmes .
Internet use in general is growing by leaps and bounds, up 9 percent year on year in May, he said.
However, the average viewership of TV still dwarf online activity in the home – 127 hours vs. 26 hours per month, between those who use the Internet, video streaming on the Web that only two hours and 19 minutes. As a group, teenage girls are more likely to participate in streaming, 82 per cent.
While 31 percent of the home online activity occurs while the user is watching, most of all household viewership of television – almost 96 percent – takes place outside the Internet The Nielsen study found.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, a greater percentage of teenagers watching television coincides with the use of the Internet, or 5.4 percent compared with 3.8 percent for the general population, Nielsen found.
Still to come is research that explores the correlation between television and entertainment content on the Web, and the relationship between television and online advertising, said Holmes.