Well, according to eMarketer's latest research out today, that time has arrived. Media consumption will plateau this year, it claims, and that is the new norm. In 2018, its researchers predict, the average Brit will spend nearly nine and a half hours a day consuming media. That's up about an hour and a quarter over the past five years.
However, the big takeaway is that it is the same as last year. It's the first time that eMarketer's headline is not a major surge in media consumption. One can only assume the point is that there are still only 24 hours in each day, and that work habits we're all in get in the way -- or should -- so getting on for nine and a half hours per day is as high as we can collectively go.
Needless to say, digital now accounts for half of that time -- up from 40% five years ago -- and mobile represents about a third. If anything, this latest finding is the big takeaway, after the fact we've reach saturation point has soaked in. If we're spending a third of our media time on a mobile device, we're actually watching the small screen more than we are the big screen. TV accounts for around 30% of our time devoted to media, so for the first time this year, mobile will overtake it.
This latter point essentially underscores what eMarketer's researchers are telling us. There may yet be room for a little more digital growth, and mobile may extend its lead over tv -- but overall, the attention we give to media has plateaued.
This is obviously not great news for traditional media. Print is only down from 4% to 3% of our time over the past five years, and radio has only dropped from 18% to 15% but there appears to be only way this is going. TV seems to have taken the biggest hit over the past five years -- down from 37% to 30% -- although it's the most likely medium here where consumers have swapped the box in the living room for the laptop or iPad in the bedroom.
So we have an interesting situation. In the past, content consumption was increasing each year to accommodate the expansion of digital, with only a little less left for traditional channels.
Now that we have reached a saturation point, one can only imagine that digital's growth is going nowhere -- but from now on, it will come at the increased cost of traditional media because overall consumption is not increasing. Much of this growth will be consuming the news, radio and tv on digital devices, and so more of a flow than a land grab.
However, we have reached that point where the whole pie doesn't get bigger, but digital and mobile's slice will increase at the cost of traditional, analogue media channels.