Min Online

by Steve Smith

March 31 – Don’t buy into the Web video hype too quickly. There seems to be scant evidence that eyeballs are fleeing the TV screen for Internet-based video experiences, according to a landmark study of cross-platform media usage.The average U.S. consumer spends about 353.1 minutes a day in front of their TV screen and only about 2.4 minutes a day watching Web video, according to the Video Consumer Mapping study conducted by the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence, the Center for Media Design at Ball State University and Sequent Partners. Even the coveted and purportedly wired 18-24-year-old segment only spent 5.5 minutes a day with Web video, versus 287 minutes with TV.

The VCM study is the first of its kind to use observational tracking of people throughout their media usage day. The $3.5 million study took a year to complete; researchers used handheld keyboards to record subjects’ media use in 10-second increments across a total of 952 observed days and three-quarters of a million minutes. The research looked at TV, Web, mobile and out-of-home media use. While the focus was on video across platforms, the data also picked up interesting tidbits about the general mind share of other media. The PC garners 142.5 minutes of a user’s day, but only 48.8 minutes of that is spent on the Web and 37.4 minutes is spent with email. Mobile phones grab 20.2 minutes of our time every day, but only 2.2 minutes go to text messaging and just under a minute is spent with the mobile Web.

The study only used a small sample of 350 users, so there are questions about extrapolating from such a base. Likewise, it is not apparent from these preliminary numbers (a complete report is forthcoming) how much converged and simultaneous usage was occurring. If a TV screen is on while a laptop screen in the living room accesses the Web, how do we gauge mind share? But even in its rough and rudimentary form, the VCM study suggests first and foremost that TV is still king of the media domain, with an overwhelming dominance across all age groups. Similarly, these numbers may well give media buyers pause before they move budgets wholesale online.