Who Watches the Most TV and Video? Young Boomers

New Study Parses 952 Days of Watching Screens

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A sweeping study of media habits has determined that young boomers use digital platforms more than previously thought and that consumers under the age of 35 watch more live TV than expected. At the same time, evidence is mounting that traditional TV use is in decline among consumers in advertisers' favorite age demographic, between 18 and 34.

The Council for Research Excellence, a group funded by Nielsen, recorded consumer exposure to visual content presented on any of four categories of screens: traditional TV, computer, mobile devices and out of home, which include cinema, in-store and even GPS devices. All told, the study generated data covering more than three-quarters of a million minutes or a total of 952 observed days. The study relied on a core group of 350 participants, but that was supplemented by other groups of candidates as needed.

TV still king
Overall, live TV usage led all video time by a large margin, followed by consumption of DVDs and then digital-video-recorder usage. The study was conducted by researchers from Ball State University's Center for Media Design and Sequent Partners.

The $3.5 million study found that younger baby boomers between the ages of 45 and 54 consume the most video media, taking in an average of just over nine-and-a-half hours each day. Of that time, 336 minutes per day, more than five-and-a-half hours, was devoted to live TV. The young boomers also use the web an average of 46 minutes, DVR playback 17 minutes, and e-mail 51 minutes.

Meanwhile, consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 take in an average of eight-and-a-half hours of media overall, with 210 minutes -- about three-and-a-half hours -- devoted to live TV. The youngest consumers devote an average of 67 minutes to the web, 34 minutes to DVR playback and 20 minutes to email.

The young boomers "adopted the behavior of two different groups of people -- one group that's younger when it comes to digital media and one group that's older when it comes to TV," Bill Moult, founding partner of Sequent Partners, said during a presentation of the research today.

Fodder for broadcasters
The study will no doubt give ballast to broadcasters and cable companies, which have labored to convince advertisers that viewers are not skipping ads as much as conventional wisdom suggests they do.

DVRs will be in just more than 30% of U.S. TV households by the end of the year, according to Interpublic Group of Cos.' Magna, and TV advertising is now purchased with some attention paid to the number of viewers who skip commercials when they watch their favorite shows days later with a recording device.

The research could also serve to emphasize marketers' desire for live-TV audiences, people who feel it necessary to view a program or event as it happens, rather than hours or days later. The study also suggested that early adopters of DVRs spent more time with playback than did newer DVR owners.

One finding could send chills across backers of other traditional media outlets. The Center for Research Excellence determined that the study suggested computer screens have displaced radio as the No. 2 media activity among consumers, with print now coming in fourth.

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