In the early 1990s the average American Couch Potato would spend more than six hours a day in front of the television.
Today that number has dropped. But, devastatingly, the loss of audience in radio (not streaming or playing our own media sourced music) and print (magazines and newspapers) has culminated in what can best be described as a slaughter in those media channels.
The category of "other" which includes video games, outdoor ads and cinema advertising also declined.
The culprit – the internet, of course.
Once a year, eMarketer does a study to look at how we time slice our media consumption. This year’s results are continuing to show the two progressions – the decline and the rate of decline – while the rate of adoption of new media continues.
For a more detailed view of how the average American spends their day – here is the latest picture for 2010.
Not a mistake - 11 hours consuming media. Which obviously means that we are multi-tasking.
The methodology of the study counts total time. So we can now in our ADD state consume multiple forms of media concurrently.
Because the web enables multiple media concurrently, this is making it hard to track and these numbers are becoming less and less meaningful over time.
There is a colleague of mine in Germany whose regular business day is about ten hours and most of that is spent in a room with 11 monitors, not to mention listening to copious quantities of Pink Floyd.
He, like the rest of us, are blurring the lines.
If I can count myself as a typical consumer, I am consuming three forms of media constantly:
At my desk, I have music streaming on the web (Pandora and LastFM), media and information tweets via Tweetdeck, and my work, which includes a fair amount of time interacting online (not to mention checking my Crackberry and other devices).
There are some important lessons here. Most importantly note that the consumers’ media consumption characteristics are changing and rapidly.
The growth of mobile time both online and offline is increasing. This is driven by the need to "stay in touch" as well as the functionality/capability of the PED (I am not sure we can call them phones – smart of otherwise – any more).
The ability to get reach the consumer with a qualified interaction is increasingly difficult. This is further demonstrated by the CPC/CPA metric’d measurements and qualifications vs the traditional CPM of legacy media. Performance based payment has become the de facto standard.
One other characteristic that is not apparent in this study is the growth of content aggregation systems at the device level. Tweetdeck, for example, and RSS feeds etc all enable abbreviated synopsis of the essence of the message.
Synthesising the information into bite sized chunks makes it harder to comprehend. We may be developing into a generation of consumers who understand a little about a lot. This in turn has some interesting characteristics of how we regard authority and authoritative sources of opinion and value.
The missing element is that we are often losing some context to the information.
Communicating in 140 characters even with embedded microURL links has to compromise the quality of what we are able to comprehend.
I liken this to the reduction of quality of sound. While digital reproduction of sound and high quality listening devices have improved over all the quality of what the regular punter hears – sadly the true high end audio has suffered.
Context, people, is the watch word of the "teens", circa 2011-2020.