Time Spent on Facebook Lags TV

The average U.S. user of Facebook spent over six hours on the site in April, according to comScore, up 16% from just over five hours in April 2011. That’s a lot of time, in the online world, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the huge amount of time Americans spend watching TV.

According to Nielsen, the average American watched around 146 hours, 45 minutes of TV per month in the third quarter of 2011, or a remarkable 4.9 hours per day. That’s up from 145 hours, 28 minutes per month in the third quarter of 2010. On other occasions Nielsen has pegged average monthly TV watching at an incredible 159 hours per month, or 5.3 hours per day.

In other words, the average American spends about as much time watching TV on any given day as they spend on Facebook in an entire month. What’s more, the Nielsen data covers the entire U.S. population, whereas “only” about half the U.S. population is on Facebook.

Indeed, the average American, as measured by Nielsen in the third quarter of 2011, spends only about 25 hours per month on the Internet altogether, meaning TV is still beating the interactive medium quite handily in terms of time spent.

This data, while unsurprising, may cast some additional light on the current discussion about time spent versus ad dollars. At industry conferences, one often hears the complaint that “TV still gets the bulk of the ad dollars” despite the Internet’s advantages in targeting and measurability. Maybe that’s because consumers still devote the lion’s share of their media time to TV?

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