Internet Vs. Old Media, And the Winner Is.......

A study released last week by GartnerG2 confirms that the Internet is changing how consumers use other media. Of the study’s 4,398 respondents, 6% watch TV somewhat less often, 14% watch it much less often. For newspapers, it's 10% for each and for magazines it's 7% somewhat less often and 8% much less often. The study also found that more than half of consumers use postal mail less than they had pre-Internet, and about a third of those polled place fewer long-distance telephone calls.

Well, duh!??!!

Isn’t this what we as an industry have been saying all along, that the Internet will change the way people relate to media, conduct commerce and even how we relate to one another?

Let’s see, what’s wrong with TV? Besides the utterly unbelievable plotline of NYPD Blue that has Connie falling for Sipowitz (pul-eze!) I could get by with HBO, ESPN, The History Channel and CNN. If you have kids, add in Nick. Otherwise the vast wasteland has never been more vast nor more of a waste.



Aside from idiotic programming, now the networks are shoving nearly 20 minutes an hour of commercials at us (plus onscreen crawls, plus pop-ups, plus promotions during credits, plus promotions during ball games and even the news, plus, plus, plus). TV has gotten more annoying than the Internet.

And, without TiVo, you can’t click the ads off, or worse still, if you like the ads you can’t click on them for more information or a quick buying opportunity.

Newspapers? Other than the fact that the news is six hours old (at least) and you can’t interact with the advertising and the editorial is one-size-fits-all, the only thing wrong with newspapers is that they STILL haven’t figured out how to lay out a readable TV guide. Once the Internet figures out high school sports, bye-bye broadsheet.

Magazines are taking a 15% hit in the study. Here’s why (in no particular order): Rosie; Ron Galotti; AOL Time Warner; the newsweeklies can’t compete with CNN so they have become health, parenting and religion magazines; the business magazines missed everything from Enron to Martha; nobody cares about J-Lo anymore (if they ever did); $5 newsstand prices and advertising that provides readers with only so much information, doesn’t answer my questions and often smells like a brothel.

Email vs. The United States Postal Service. Is this a trick question? Let’s see… Ever-increasing postage costs, ever-worsening postal service, mangled letters and magazines, junk mail, rain, standing in line for stamps, 18-day delivery from across town. Drunk-driving teens with baseball bats using my mail box for batting practice. Yeah, hard to understand why that type-and-click-thing is so attractive.

Fewer long distance calls. See Worldcom; understandable rates; “I’m sorry all of our circuits are busy, try your call again later;” quick repairs; downed phone lines (see also irrigation companies who dig first and shrug later); $1.75 directory assistance; roaming charges. The Internet is about two years away from full telecom capabilities. At which time AT&T will be a penny stock (if the market doesn’t drive it there first.)

Harsh? Yeah. I’m a pretty loyal newspaper reader and love magazines and appreciate network coverage of major sports and breaking news. But let’s face it, the Internet is that paradigm shift in communications we once envisioned and it offers advertisers far more than display ads or 30-second spots.

As we continue to mature and get smarter about how we use the Internet to reach consumers, it’s impact will only keep growing… at the expense of other media.

John Durham is COO of Interep Interactive. He may be reached at

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