IPG's Magna Finds 'Media Time Paradox' -- People Spending Less Time With It

A new report from IPG Mediabrands' Magna unit reads like a sci-fi novel, and to some observers, its key finding -- that the amount of time people spend using media is actually declining -- may seem like it came from an alternative reality.

The special report, entitled "The Media Time Paradox," projects the time U.S. adults spend using media will drop to 72.8 hours weekly, down 11.2% from 2019's 82.0 hours weekly.

The finding is part of Magna's ongoing tracking of consumer media, and it may seem counterintuitive to some given the proliferation of new forms of media -- especially digital options like streaming, social media and new and emerging options like gaming, Web3 and some as-yet-to be classified ones.

Most startling of all, the report concludes that even once fast-growing media options like social media are seeing a decline in the amount of time people spend on them. Even TikTok.



"I thought that was pretty interesting," Magna Executive Vice President-Audience Intelligence Brian Hughes says of the erosion in time spent on TikTok, which many regard to be the fastest-growing -- and in some ways -- dominant form of social media.

"They keep getting new users, but the new users are older and older people spend less time on TikTok overall," he explains.

In fact, the report, which is based on U.S. consumer media usage, finds that the time the average American adult spends on TikTok declined 29% in 2022 vs. 2021. Compared with 2020, the average time spent on TikTok declined 42%.

Hughes attributes the erosion in time spent with media to two big factors, especially for social media: "burnout," and increased priorities on experiencing things "IRL" (in real life).

While the report doesn't cite specific data to back up those theses, Hughes says both are logical explanations for the phenomenon, especially coming out of a pandemic in which people were locked down and/or prevented from experiencing much of what they normally might have experienced in the real world, and becoming more dependent on virtual experiences through digital media.

That last finding may be especially consequential for media technology developers betting on the role of metaverses in which people increasingly experience things -- and interact with each other -- via avatars and virtual reality.

The IRL boom may have some real traction to it, Hughes notes, citing rebounding out-of-home, place-based and event-related media, as well the theatrical movie box office.

A recent forecast on experiential marketing spending from PQ Media also projects significant growth for IRL experiences, as well as marketing budgets to support them.

Hughes acknowledged that some of the erosion in measured media usage -- including both digital and analog media experiences -- may be shifting to new and old forms of media that are not so rigorously measured as the ones Magna tracks as the basis of its news report, including the rapid growth of new forms of social media, mobile apps and so-called "long tail" media.

5 comments about "IPG's Magna Finds 'Media Time Paradox' -- People Spending Less Time With It".
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  1. Leo Kivijarv from PQ Media, November 21, 2022 at 12:56 p.m.

    I'm sorry, but any media consumption study that shows a decline in media usage in 2020 has to be suspect. Normally, I find Magna Global data quite credible, but not in this instance. PQ Media's "Global Consumer Media Usage Forecast 2021-2025" reported that US media usage jumped 4.6% in 2020, the largest gain ever since 1975 (first year of available data), exceeding the 3.4% gain in 1976, when national cable moved into the cities with the introduction of HBO, as well as videogame consoles from Magnavox available for home use; as well as the 2.6% increase in 1999 when internet penetration surged as AOL became the must-have access portal before broadband was introduced nationwide in the early 2000s.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 21, 2022 at 2:30 p.m.

    I tend to gree with Leo. I gather that they provided no breakdowns by medium so it's difficult to question the findings which may make sense for digital activity, including streaming, but not for linear TV or AM/FM radio---or the other way around.  I should also add that adults 18-49 is only one of several breaks that might have been shown---adults aged 50+ and teens/children, together, constitue a major media usage grouping. Were they also down?Finally, it's not clear about the source of the data. Did they conduct their own polls each year or are the projections based on Nilesen for TV and radio and other industry sources for digital activity, plus educated guesses for print media, podcasts, videogames, etc? Indeed, were the last two included at all? 

  3. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., November 21, 2022 at 4:23 p.m.

    @Ed Papazian: Actually, Magna does include breakdowns by medium, so I added it into the article if you want to look at how they've been tracking it.

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 21, 2022 at 5:46 p.m.

    Thanks for the aded info, Joe. I see that they are crediting streaming with a 58% share of "TV" viewing---that's "live"---or "linear" plus "on-demand"---or "streaming". I don't have any current Nielsen breakdowns for the adult 18-49  conglomerate, but if the overall streaming share is  37%---per Nielsen--- and adults aged 18-49 are about 47% of the population, this means that the combined streaming share for kids, teens and adults 50+  is only around 18%. I'd like to see what Nielsen has to say on this----but it raises questions in my mind. More to the point, adults aged 18-49 happen to be those who have been most into streaming---though this is now changing. So if these estimates are accurate, they do not refelct what the total population is doing---just part of it and those who are generally the lightest "linear TV" viewers. 

  5. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, November 21, 2022 at 11:04 p.m.

    Covid produced effects on media in a number of way. There were less new big screen movies. The new Top Gun movie for example that showed big numbers and pulled people away from the computers. In short media contents changed greatly over the past three because of Covid.

     My point is there are period of time that people shift in their daily  entertainment time usage will change. If this personal amount of time continues downwards then this might have real meat on the bones.  I think media will level off in a year or two. 

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