For the first time, Australians in 2007 were spending more time online than they were spending watching TV (an average of 13.7 hours per week compared with 13.3 hours of TV) according to Nielsen Online's 2007 Australian Internet and Technology Report.
Shortly thereafter, Roy Morgan Research found that Australian consumers aged 14 and older spent more than twice as much time watching TV as they spent online. Roy Morgan claimed that the difference came about because it used a representative cross-sample of the Australian population, including heavy, medium, light, and non-Internet users, while the Nielsen data was based on an online panel that didn't cover all Australians.
The point is valid. eMarketer estimates that in 2007 33.3 per cent of Australians were not Internet users, roughly the same as in the US. Panel surveys should take such factors into account. Is it accurate to say then that Australians are truly turning away from TV in droves?
Ben Macklin, a senior analyst at eMarketer and based in Australia, explained that the usage question is somewhat misguided. "In many respects the direct comparison between TV and Internet usage is not entirely valid," he said. "One can do both at the same time. Often TV and Internet usage are simultaneous. Internet usage also can occur throughout the day at work and at home, while most TV usage occurs at home in the evenings."
The eMarketer TV Advertising report will be published in June 2008.
Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report.