Rising Internet viewership is not a death knell for TV

A new report from Forrester Research finds that for the first time the average US consumer now spends as much time on the Internet as they do watching TV offline.

In the news

A new report from Forrester Research finds that for the first time the average US consumer now spends as much time on the Internet as they do watching TV offline.

Why does it matter?

Initially, this appears to be more evidence of new media capturing eyeballs at the expense of traditional broadcast outlets, but the study does note that while Internet usage is up 121% during the past five years, it's not coming at the expense of TV viewership, which remained fairly stable during that same period at about 13 hours a week.

Furthermore, according to a Pew Research Center for People & the Press study, when it comes to national and international news, TV remains the top overall source, though Lee Rainie, director of Pew's Internet & American Life Project, points out that among the 18- to 29-year-old demographic, online sources have now surpassed TV.

Rainie notes TV newsrooms have spent the last decade adapting to broadband's rise as reporters augment traditional on-camera work with online content. "I don't have a sense of how the move online will change the way a TV story is put together," he adds, "though conventional wisdom is you'll need to provide shorter bites of information."

The PR sector has cut back on traditional broadcast tools such as VNRs and b-roll, but Jean Ziliani, MD of PainePR's media division, credits that to many stations being gun-shy about using them, rather than some online impact.

"Online and broadcast are proving quite complementary," she adds. "If you get a successful segment on local or national TV, those are then posted online. You pick up additional hits and extend the life of the visual that you have."

Key facts

1 The Pew Research Center found 66% of Americans cite TV as their main source of national and global news, though that's down from 82% eight years ago

2 Pew found nearly half of college-educated adults cite online as their primary news source, while nearly 80% with just a high school education cite TV

3 The percentage of US consumers using an online mobile device for video and TV viewing doubled in the past two years to 8%, according to Forrester

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