Digital Media Time to Overtake TV in the US

Average time spent with digital media per day will surpass TV viewing time for the first time this year, according to eMarketers latest estimate of media consumption among US adults.

The average adult will spend over 5 hours per day online, on non-voice mobile activities or with other digital media this year, eMarketer estimates, compared to 4 hours and 31 minutes watching TV. Daily TV time will actually be down slightly this year, while digital media consumption will be up 15.8 per cent.

The most significant growth area is on mobile. Adults will spend an average of 2 hours and 21 minutes per day on non-voice mobile activities, including mobile internet usage on phones and tablets – longer than they will spend online on desktop and laptop computers, and nearly an hour more than they spent on mobile last year.
eMarketers estimates of time spent with media include all time spent within each medium, regardless of multitasking. Consumers who spend an hour watching TV while multitasking on tablet devices, for example, would be counted as spending an hour with TV and an additional hour on mobile. Such multitasking helps to contribute to the increase in the overall time people spend with media each day, which eMarketer expects to rise from 11 hours and 39 minutes in 2012, to 11 hours and 52 minutes this year.

Time spent with mobile has come to represent a little more than half of TVs share of total media time, as well as more than half of digital media time as a whole. The bulk of mobile time is spent on smartphones, at 1 hour and 7 minutes per day, but tablets are not far behind. Feature phones account for relatively little time spent on non-voice mobile activities, since few have robust mobile internet capabilities.
US adults will spend 44.4 per cent of their overall media time with digital this year, including 19.8 per cent on mobile – compared to 19.5 per cent on laptops and PCs. Time spent with mobile phones and tablets, excluding voice calls, has risen from 13.5 per cent of all media time last year, and has nearly tripled since 2011.

The shift from desktop to mobile, whether smartphone or tablet, is happening across a variety of activities, including social networking and digital video viewing, and tablets are key to the trend. As social networking and video plateaux in terms of share of total desktop time (around 29 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively), these activities are growing more quickly on smartphones, and especially tablets. The share of all tablet time spent with video, for example, will nearly double this year, from 10 per cent to 19 per cent.

eMarketer’s figures are based on an analysis of more than 400 data points collected from more than 40 research institutions