According to a new survey from the IBM Institute for Business Value, the amount of personal time that consumers now spend on the Internet rivals the amount of time they spend watching TV.
A total of 66 percent of the new survey's respondents reported viewing television programs from one to four hours per day, versus 60 percent who reported the same levels of personal Internet use. Moreover, researchers said the traditional TV set is increasingly taking a back seat to PCs and cellular handsets among consumers between the ages of 18 and 34.
In addition to conducting the new survey online, IBM researchers stopped young people on the streets of New York to record opinions on videotape. IBM said its informal street sample returned surprisingly similar results to its official survey.
As one of the respondents put it in an IBM video clip now available on YouTube, "If I had to pick between TV and the Internet at this point in my life, I would almost always choose the Internet." When asked why, he replied, "interactivity, for one, and No. 2, my entire life is on the Internet."
Traditional TV's Demise
So are we approaching the end of television as we have come to know it? Keep in mind that IBM's new survey was conducted online, which suggests that its results are skewed in favor of those already tasting the fruit of the Internet's vast global tree.
But with computer prices in freefall and a global push already underway to put computers into the hands of more people in developing nations, the Internet's rise to the top of media markets worldwide might not be as far off as traditional broadcasters, publishers, and advertisers would like to think.
"Just as the 'Kool Kids' and 'Gadgetiers' have replaced traditional landlines with mobile communications, cable and satellite TV subscriptions risk a similar fate of being replaced as the primary source of content access," noted IBM Media & Entertainment Strategy and Change practice leader Saul Berman.
IBM's surveyors said that today's Internet audiences are more in control than ever and increasingly savvy about finding ways to filter out marketing messages. And when it comes to mobile and Internet entertainment, consumers say what they really want is consolidated, trustworthy content.
Advertising agencies are going to have to move beyond their traditional creative roles and become brokers of these and other consumer insights, IBM's researchers said. In particular, online marketers will be forced to experiment to find new ways to make advertising more compelling, or risk being ignored. (continued...)