Some Multitasking Yields Inflated Measurements

According to eMarketer’s latest daily major media consumption estimates, compared to earlier figures released for 2012, consumers are spending more time with major media each day, and all that extra time is going to digital media. Radio, though, has been quite resilient among traditional media.

Media Consumption (hrs:min)



















Data source: eMarketer, May 2017

Over the past 5 years, says the report, adults have added almost half-an-hour to their daily media diet, now exceeding 12 hours. Those figures include multitasking, such that an hour spent looking at a smartphone while watching TV is counted as 2 hours. The additional time spent with media is going to digital, with some of that likely due to multitasking.

A recent study from the Council for Research Excellence found that TV viewers are distracted by second screens almost one-quarter of the time that they’re in front of the TV. So, with the proliferation of smartphones over the years, it makes sense that these multitasking hours would add up.

As for TV, the report says that time spent in front of the box has dropped by a little more than half-an-hour over the past 5 years, to just over 4 hours per day. That’s a decline of about 1/8th of viewing time over 5 years. Another analysis shows how unevenly this has been distributed by age group, with young Millennials (18-24) watching almost 40% less traditional TV, compared to 5 years earlier, and the 65+ group watching almost 10% more! 

While TV is struggling to hold its own, radio consumption has been largely unaffected by the advent of digital media, says the report, despite the rise of internet radio. This year adults will spend 1 hour and 26 minutes per day on average listening to the radio, just 6 minutes fewer than 5 years ago.

Meanwhile, print is dropping, says the report. With a 15-minute fall in daily time spent over the past 5 years, print consumption is down to 15 minutes a day this year, clearly the medium that has been hit the hardest by digital.

Finally, concludes the report, of the 5 hours and 50 minutes spent with digital media each day this year, 3 hours and 14 minutes will be allocated to mobile media (non-voice).

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1 comment about "Some Multitasking Yields Inflated Measurements".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 19, 2017 at 7:23 a.m.

    Jack, the "finding" that the average consumer spends one fourth of his/her TV viewing time "looking at a smartphone" is, no doubt, based on studies that ask people what they usually do, or how often they do it, etc. These are notorious inflators of multitasking claims and are impossible to take seriously. Also, if by "looking at smartphones" we mean watching videos on their smartphones, Nielsen has reported very consistantly that smart phone video consumption, in total, while on the increase, is a very limited duration activity---a few minutes per day---  compared to TV "viewing". One hour a day of smartphone video "viewing" per day, per person, while watching TV, does not compute.

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