OPA Study: Internet top choice among young people

This won’t be a bulletin to those who study such things, but this new study (PDF) by the Online Publisher’s Association and Frank Magid Associates contains some important stuff.

“Consumers continue to move beyond purely functional uses of the Internet into more media-oriented activities, such as reading stories, looking at photos, and watching video,” said Michael Zimbalist, president of the Online Publishers Association. “These results show how receptive people of all ages are to the Internet as a medium and not just a tool.”

The study of 1,235 adults aged 18–54, shows that the Internet and television are the top two media choices. The graph below is from the question, “If you could use only two media in your life, which two of the media listed below would you use?

Other important findings include more evidence that broadband users (the fastest growing segment of the online community) use the Internet more often that those who don’t. The study also took a close look at age groupings and provides more data suggesting young people are more disposed to the Internet than older adults (a shock!). Even online penetration is influenced by age.
Note that 83.4% of men 18–24 have Internet access along with three-fourths of women in the same age group, which means all of the disruptive impacts of the Web will continue to worsen for those in traditional media settings.


  1. Matt C. Wilson says

    Although I absolutely agree with the findings of the survey, I think there’s a key perspective that’s missing. Mainly, the internet is a system for obtaining almost every other entry on the survey itself. It’s a “media” media.

    Books — eBooks.com
    Radio — Live365.com
    Newspapers — NYTimes.com
    Videos/DVDs — MovieLink.com
    Video Games — PopCap.com
    Magazines — PopSci.com

    and that’s just taking a narrow view of sites that do “over the wire” distribution. If you throw in by-mail subscription stuff like Netflix, BooksFree, and GameFly, I can obtain the physical media via the internet as well. TV is the only notable exception, and as you’ve pointed out Terry — that ain’t long in comin’.

    Another good point overlooked by the survey is exclusion of the telephone. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that inclusion of the phone as a choice would have done real damage to the other numbers, and might have knocked magazines off the chart.

    So, my point is that comparative studies like this shouldn’t really treat “the Internet” as a competing media itself, but as a distribution system. The real competition for eyeballs and mindshare is still among the content providers. And the best way to be competitive is to grab a hold of that 77.7% and put your content online.

    “The media is dead, long live the media!”

  2. Excellent points, Matt. Thanks for the input.

    As Doc says, “The Internet isn’t a medium. It’s a place.”

  3. The disparity in usage by gender, especially in the 35–54 range is rather interesting, when comparing the OPA report to the USC Annenberg aggregated report by gender [http://www.digitalcenter.org/downloads/DigitalFutureReport-Year4-2004.pdf]. What makes this age group different?

    Also interesting is the possible shift in perception of what the internet is, if comparing the Pew report from 2003 (strong number of users perceive it as a library). [http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Shifting_Net_Pop_Report.pdf]

    Good stuff, Terry, thanks!

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