Spurred on by the availability of affordable smartphones, faster connections, better screens and more apps, people around the world will spend an average of 800 hours using the mobile internet this year – or roughly 33 days without sleep or pause. By 2021 the total will rise to 930 hours, or 39 full days. Mobile internet has eaten into the amount of time people spend with some – but not all – rival media. Consumers’ appetite for radio “has remained robust,” with radio listening rising from 53 minutes a day to 55.
The new numbers are from Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecasts, which have surveyed media consumption patterns since 2011. Across the 57 countries that were surveyed, people will spend a collective 3.8 trillion hours using the mobile internet this year, rising to 4.5 trillion hours in 2021.
Since Zenith published its first edition in 2015, the average amount of time people around the world spend accessing the mobile internet has risen from 80 to 130 minutes a day, at an average rate of 13% a year. But growth is slowing, now that most people in the developed world who want a mobile device have one, and ownership is becoming common in developing markets. The forecast now calls for an average of 8% annual growth in time spent on mobile internet devices between 2018 and 2021 and for mobile internet use to make up 31% of global media consumption in 2021, up from 27% this year.
Television remains the biggest medium globally, attracting 167 minutes of viewing each day in 2019. However, TV viewing is predicted to fall slowly to 165 minutes a day in 2021. While television will remain the world’s favorite medium throughout the forecast period, it will decline to 33% of all media consumption in 2021, down from 35% in 2019.
Mobile internet continues to eat into the amount of time people spend with some rival media – but not all. Between 2014 and 2019, the average amount of time spent reading newspapers has fallen from 17 minutes a day to 11, while time reading magazines has fallen from 8 to 4, and time watching television has fallen from 171 to 167. Desktop internet use has also fallen, from 47 minutes a day to 40. “However, consumers’ appetite for radio and cinema has remained robust, with radio listening rising from 53 minutes to 55, and time spent at the cinema rising from 1.8 minutes to 3.0 minutes a day on average,” the new forecast notes.
And the number for radio would be higher if consumption that occurs via the internet was included. Zenith’s radio and television figures only count time with broadcast stations and channels. Similarly, time spent with newspapers and magazines only includes their printed editions. Zenith rolls up time spent with online platforms owned by broadcasters or publishers with the internet numbers.
While an earlier media consumption study from Nielsen showed that overall total media use among U.S. adults remains unchanged year-over-year at 10-and-a-half hours per day, Zenith finds total media consumption continues to rise on a global basis. Consumers will spend an average of 479 minutes a day with media this year, up from 420 minutes in 2013. By 2021 Zenith says the average consumer will spend 495 minutes a day consuming media.
“Mobile internet technology has expanded both the amount of time people spend with media, and what counts as media,” said Jonathan Barnard, Head of Forecasting at Zenith. “Media now means comparing prices on the high street, sharing jokes with friends and booking your next holiday, opening up new opportunities for brands to connect with consumers.”