Advance look at UCLA study

Advance look at UCLA study.
The UCLA Center for Communications Policy’s annual Internet study is widely regarded as the definitive measurement of how the Web is impacting culture. In its fourth year, the report is due out next month, but an advance peek in an AdAge article doesn’t disappoint. The study covers 16 countries and over 10,000 young people.

Of the 11.8 hours the average Internet user spends online weekly, more than half is coming from TV viewing and almost none from sleep or socialization, Mr. Cole (Jeffrey Cole, director of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy) said. The Internet caused the number of hours children 14 and under spend watching TV to decline for the first time in 1998, a trend that has continued in recent years, he said. But only in 2002 did Internet usage begin to affect time spent with print media, and then only modestly.

“Internet users watch 28% less TV than non-Internet users,” Mr. Cole said, “though Internet users still spend more time watching TV than they spend on the Internet.”

Growing penetration of broadband, which UCLA has found was used by 36.8% of Internet users last year, is at first blush good news for TV advertisers, because broadband users are more likely to go online in short 2- to 3-minute bursts rather than the 30 minutes common among modem users, he said. But the 2- to 3-minute bursts tend to come during TV commercial breaks, he said. “It’s becoming the thing people do during the commercials.”

Each year, this study has offered television executives a truthful perspective on what’s really happening to their industry. Mr. Cole says television isn’t going to go away entirely, and I certainly agree with that. But the numbers don’t lie. The growth of the Internet continues unabated, and the worst thing for TV is that the longer people are online, the more comfortable they get with the medium (over 50% of U.S. Internet users have more than two years experience online). The UCLA study has traditionally shown that the longer one is with the Internet, the more acute is the impact on their television viewing.

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