by Sam Churchill

A $3.5 million, year-long Video Consumer Mapping study, conducted on behalf of AC Nielsen, found that younger baby boomers (age 45-54) consume the most video media while confirming that traditional “live” television remains the proverbial “800-pound gorilla” in the video media arena.

Consumers in the 45-54 age group average the most daily screen time (just over 9 1/2 hours), while the VCM study found the average for all other age groups to be “strikingly similar” at roughly 8 1/2 hours.

The research found that:

  • TV in the home still commands the greatest amount of viewing, even among those ages 18-24.
  • Computer use has replaced radio as the No. 2 media activity. Radio is now No. 3 and print media fourth.
  • Computer video tends to be quite small, with an average time of just two minutes (a little more than 0.5 percent) a day.
  • TV users were exposed to, on average, 72 minutes per day of TV ads and promos.

Using handheld smart keyboards equipped with a custom media collector program developed by Ball State, the observers recorded — in 10-second increments — 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 such as a Blackberry or iPhone (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 and even GPS navigation units).

The $3.5 million research project was done by actually observing 350 people going about their days. Observers had special devices that recorded consumer exposure to visual content during the spring and fall of 2008.

Adults are exposed to screens — TVs, cellphones, even G.P.S. devices — for about 8.5 hours on any given day, according to the study. The data suggests that computer usage has supplanted radio as the second most common media activity but TV remains the dominant medium for media consumption and advertising.

The study sought, in part, to determine whether media companies needed to address new forms of media measurement. Researchers at Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, conducted the study, paid for by Nielsen, a company best known for television ratings. The researchers say they recorded 952 days of behavior. People under 18 were not included in the study.