Internet Users Would Rather Give Up TV Than Web

Internet users between the ages of 18 and 54 found that they prefer the Internet to more traditional media, including television, according to survey results announced yesterday by the Online Publishers Association.

When asked which media they'd choose to use if they could pick only two, the majority of study respondents chose the Internet (45.6 percent) and television (34.6 percent) as their first choices. More than 50 percent of 18- to-24-year-olds picked the Internet as their first choice, compared to 28.5 percent who chose television.

Pervasiveness and familiarity with the Internet are what's causing the integration of the Web into the lives of this younger generation, said OPA President Michael Zimbalist. He said younger people believe that "with the Internet, I have whatever I'm looking for, wherever I am."

The national survey, conducted online by Frank N. Magid Associates' Surveysonline.com, studied media usage and attitudes among three age groups: 18- to-24-year-olds, 25- to-34-year-olds, and 35- to-54-year-olds.

The study revealed that all generations surveyed share similar attitudes toward the increasingly adopted medium. For instance, more than 70 percent of all participants consider the time spent using the Internet to be an important part of their day, and more than 70 percent use the Internet to keep up with topics of interest as well as for entertainment purposes. More than 60 percent of all those studied believe that Internet content provides them with useful information about products and services.

When asked about particular uses, those surveyed also found the Internet to be better than other media. More than 70 percent believe the Web is better than magazines for finding information about products and music. The groups surveyed also share like notions of television, with more than 80 percent of respondents saying they watch it for entertainment. Attitudes toward print newspapers, on the other hand, were more disparate across generations. While 38 percent of 35- to-54-year-olds said that reading the paper is an important part of their day, less than half that number--17 percent--of 18- to-24-year-olds said the same.

Until now, people have tended to read newspapers more as they have gotten older. But Zimbalist said he's not sure this pattern will continue. "The question is, now that the Internet has infused itself into this younger group, are we going to see that same shift?"

One of the few gender differences found among survey respondents was that 10 to 15 percent more men than women found the Internet provided a better experience than traditional media for reading a story online as compared to reading a story in the newspaper, or watching a short video clip as compared to watching highlights on TV.

The study also found that compared to a year ago, the Internet and television are used most frequently by all surveyed. From two to five hours on a typical weekday, 52 percent watch TV and 41 percent use the Internet. Twenty-five percent of participants listen to the radio from two to five hours daily, 24 percent watch videos or DVDs, and 15 percent read books for that duration.

"Once you adopt [the Web], everybody sees the value," commented Zimbalist. "Now it's just a matter of the quality of the experience continuing to improve, and recognizing that this is more than a tool--it's a medium."