Of time and the media

TV-PC convergence, by some calculations, creates 30-hour days, says new MTV demographic study

If you've been feeling tired lately, it may be because you're living a 30-hour day. That's what MTV Network's leisure-time study-released last week-reports is the length of time the average multitasking American crams into a day.

By using different media simultaneously, consumers are expanding their days, and television viewership may actually be benefiting from PC usage, not suffering as many initially suggested. But in that super-plugged-in environment radio is a harder fit, especially because Internet music sources are gaining traction.

The bottom line: Past projections have noted the integration of TV and the Internet, but Betsey Frank, executive VP of research and planning for MTV Networks, suggests in the new study that "the media industry may have been looking for convergence in all the wrong places."

Although TV and the Internet are cohabiting nicely, Frank says radio may be threatened. More Americans, especially younger people, are listening to and downloading music online. While both TV viewing and PC usage increased, the number of people who reported playing the radio stayed flat at 22%, while 13% reported listening to music on the Internet, up 4% from last year.

Because listening to music is passive, viewers can play their favorite songs in the background while they focus their attention on operating their computers. Because television viewing is up and considering the statistics on online music usage, Frank suggested at a press conference, "music may be a better model for convergence than TV."

The annual study, which has a bit of a reputation for its unusual but insightful view on demographics, was based on 24-hour diaries completed by 4,000 respondents ages 4 (yes, that's 4) to 70, 25% of whom say they watch television while using the Internet.

PC ownership increased 5% to 62% since the previous study, with e-mail and other forms of communication continuing to be the most common activity on the Net. But Americans haven't thrown away their TV sets: Television viewing increased in all ages, except for the over 50 group, with the 12-24 age range leading in growth.

The stats suggest the two media complement each other: 28% of respondents said they visited a Web site they saw advertised on TV.

All this multitasking is responsible for our elongated day. Adults, packing the equivalent of 11.4 hours into 7, combine media more often in their leisure time than non-adults, who reported condensing 10.1 hours into 6.7.


Tampas media trio

Media General's experiment in convergence brings together the Tampa Tribune,'wfla and an online news site-all under one roof