Does America Spend More Time Online Or Watching TV?

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Do you spend as much time watching television as you do online? Apparently, it depends on who you ask. A survey released by Forrester Research earlier this week got a lot of attention for its claim that the average American spends an equal time – around 13 hours per week – doing both, the first time that the two have reached parity – but other sources are arguing that that conclusion is nowhere near correct.

Findings from both Neilsen and comScore significantly contradict the Forrester survey. Neilsen reports that the average American watches closer to 39 hours of television per week, while comScore reports an average internet time of just 7 hours and 24 minutes per week. The cause of the contradicting data? Forrester’s survey relied on self-reporting, with the 3000 subjects being relied upon to accurately represent their activities for the length of the survey. This wouldn’t be the first time that self-reporting has led to unreliable data on this subject; last year, a study by Ball State University Center for Media Design on television/internet usage noted that “serious caution needs to be applied in interpreting self-report data for media use. TV was substantially under-reported while online video and mobile video usage were over-reported,” and ESPN – a Forrester client who plans to meet with the research company today to discuss this survey’s findings – is skeptical, with VP of integrated research Glenn Enoch calling self-reporting “something we’re generally careful about.” (More on Techland: ESPN: People Aren’t Ditching Cable For Streaming TV)

And so, the question is still unanswered. Is America moving to spend as much time online as it does in a televisual haze? The answer seems to be no, but only one thing is for certain: Don’t ask us, because we don’t seem to know how we’re spending our time.

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