After several years of torrid growth, time spent with media will level off this year at 12 hours, 9 minutes per day (12:09), according to eMarketer, marking a modest one-minute increase from the research firm’s estimate last year. While basically flat, the report finds that declines in time spent with traditional media are being offset by digital media consumption increases. “One factor contributing to digital’s gains is the rise in digital audio,” the report surmises, singling out the rapid adoption of smart speakers and the increasing popularity of podcasts as contributing factors.
In fact, eMarketer expects daily time spent with digital audio in 2019 to average 1:20 and increase to 1:24 next year. Keep in mind these figures include the online streams of AM/FM radio as well as broadcast radio content repurposed as podcasts.
Another trend gaining steam is digital video displacing traditional TV, with more people making deliberate content consumption choices and transitioning from passive recipients of media to more active programmers of their media day. “Mass adoption of smartphones made media multitasking standard procedure for many people, and this often consisted of looking at social media or other content on a phone while sort-of-watching TV,” said Mark Dolliver, principal analyst at eMarketer. “But if you’ve made a considered decision to watch something on Netflix and have paid a subscription fee to do so, you’re less likely to distract yourself by layering another kind of media usage atop that. So, less multitasking means less of an increase in total time spent with media.”
Time spent by adults with smartphones continues to rise but the gains are subdued as increases in smartphone penetration in the U.S. have slowed.
The one-minute gain in daily time spent with media in 2019 is negligible compared to the 1.5 hour increase from 2009 to 2015. Still, 2020 is forecast to bring more meaningful growth, with eMarketer calling for a 4-minute increase in time spent as “tentpole media events like the 2020 presidential election and Summer Olympics begin in earnest.”
The eMarketer numbers includes media multi-tasking. In other words, if a consumer is using two different media in the same hour, it counts that as two hours of total time spent.
The latest forecast calls for digital to top media consumption in 2019 with 6:35 in daily media time, followed by TV at 3:35, radio at 1:20, newspapers at 11 minutes and magazines at nine minutes. The estimates for TV, radio, newspapers and magazines don’t include digital consumption.
So how do the new eMarketer figures compare with those from Nielsen? Based on third quarter 2018 data, adults 18+ spent 12:07 per week with AM/FM radio (or 1:43 per day), compared to 35 minutes per week with streaming audio on either a smartphone or a tablet, per Nielsen’s Total Audience Report. And according to Edison Research’s Share Of Ear, AM/FM radio continues to dominate a rapidly expanding audio universe in the U.S., accounting for half the time Americans spend listening to audio. At 50%, the amount of time Americans 13+ spend with AM/FM is more than triple that for streaming audio (16%), which ranks second, followed by owned music (14%), SiriusXM (8%), TV music channels (5%) and podcasts 4%.