Mark 2006 as the time that newspapers and magazines came in second to the Web. The Financial Times of London confirmed this in a report.
European consumers spend more time online, and has overtaken the hours they devote to newspapers and magazines, a study revealed. This takes in a market that is very well-read. So the habits of the US print media vs. online are most likely even more dramatic. There has been no major time-use study on American media consumption.
But there is a glimmer of hope, the growth of new media is expanding total media consumption rather than simply cannibalizing print and television.
Print consumption has remained static at three hours a week in the past two years, as time spent online has doubled from two to four hours. Viewers are also spending more time watching television, up from 10 hours to 12 a week.
The Jupiter Research survey of more than 5,000 people in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain shows that Europeans’ use of the internet is still behind the rates seen in the US. A similar study by Jupiter of US habits found that Americans now spend 14 hours a week online – as much time as they spend watching television – and just three hours reading print.
However, the rapid spread of fast broadband internet connections in Europe is likely to accelerate the trend. The average time spent online by broadband customers in Europe was seven hours a week, compared with two hours for those with dial-up connections.
In France, where 79 per cent of online households have broadband connections, the typical user is online for five hours a week, compared with only three hours a week in Germany, which has a broadband penetration rate of 42 per cent.
“The fact that internet consumption has passed print consumption is an important landmark for the establishment of the internet in Europe,” said Mark Mulligan, research director at Jupiter. “This shift in the balance of power will increasingly shape content distribution strategies, advertising spend allocation and communication strategies.”
By far most of the time Europeans spent online was devoted to e-mail and search activities. Entertainment content such as music and video still accounted for only 22 per cent of online activity.
The research found “a very clear new media/old media generational divide”, Mr Mulligan said. Under-25s now spend six hours a week online, half the time they spend watching television but three times the hours they devote to print. Those aged 15-24 are almost twice as likely as the average consumer “to consume music and video content online. Their habits are going to change the face of the web as they become more mainstream,” Mulligan said.