TV is still America's drug of choice
Today's New York Times has a round-up of findings from this year's U.S. Census Statistical Abstract, including this shocking tidbit:
Adolescents and adults now spend, on average, more than 64 days a year watching television, 41 days listening to the radio and a little over a week using the Internet. Among adults, 97 million Internet users sought news online last year, 92 million bought a product, 91 million made a travel reservation, 16 million used a social or professional networking site and 13 million created a blog.

Could it really be that Americans use the Internet only a fraction -- about one-tenth -- of the time that they watch television? I think most blog readers would find that kind of bizarre, and probably distribute their time inversely. And clearly this stat doesn't count time at work, where pretty much the entire day for some workers could be counted as "time on the Internet." Or am I overestimating the number of people who sit in front of a computer for work?

For online marketers or Web businesses, these stats might be a good thing: There's plenty of room to grow! After all, 27% of Americans don't even have the Web at home yet. (The time someone spends online also increases once they get broadband.)

But much as I love the Internet, these figures make me wonder: Perhaps there is a limit to how much online leisure time Americans can stomach. Is TV just easier to zone out to during free time? That could be good news for Old Media, at least until the Internet becomes more TV-like. In any case, since you have to buy the Statistical Abstract, I can't read it to get any more more context. (And I can't reach their media relations).

Maybe a reader with a copy can shed some light on this pretty surprising finding.

[UPDATE: A commenter points out that the Abstract is available free here. Haven't had time to review it in depth yet, but just flipping through it, it's full of little snapshots of American life. For example: 7% of Americans read a blog last year. That's more than attended a classical music performance (2.4%) but fewer than played billiards (9%). A challenge to commenters: Come up with the most interesting/funny/illuminating statistical contrast.]
Posted by Telis Demos 1:11 PM 5 Comments comment | Add a Comment

Hi Telis

I currently spend 12 hours a day online because im a webmaster. Even when I want to have some fun, I just play some music or games also from my PC. I also download movies online and read the news at cnn or yahoo or aljazeera.

Im someone who does not need a TV for sure. Although we have 4 TV's in the house and each one is connected to a satellite.

My point is, being a webmaster and online all the time. I have found that there is nothing I need and can't find online, whether its music, games, news, movies or even money.

I might start to order food online ;)
Posted By Cluj Romania : 2:58 AM  

What I think this fails to mention is the amount of people who use the internet and watch tv at the same time. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this.
Posted By Clinton, Montreal, Quebec : 8:51 AM  

The Statistical Abstract is available free via the US Census Bureau website
Posted By Justin Meyer, IncreMental Advantage, Princeton, NJ : 10:43 AM  

You must not make very much money since you can't afford research materials that cost $34. If I were you I would either a) ask for a raise or b) find a less crappy job.
Posted By Ash, Indiana : 11:14 AM  

Honestly, after spending 8+ hours every day using a computer, sometimes, I really don't want to come home and use another computer. It's like going to the same restaurant every day whether you order the same thing or not.

On top of that, advertising is really out of hand. Do marketing companies really believe that flashing text is going to entice me to buy the products? Get serious. I find all the flashing and moving irritating enough to turn me away from websites. On more than one occasion, I have left one news site and gone to another just because of all the flashing and moving text/pictures.
Posted By Ken, Elko, NV : 2:22 PM  

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