Web tops TV, radio for TO’s Chinese, South Asian communities

Study reveals web is new medium of choice for Toronto's Chinese and South Asian population, thanks to its ability to deliver info from around the globe instantaneously.

The Internet has supplanted TV and radio as the medium of choice among Toronto’s Chinese and South Asian populations, according to a new study from research firm Solutions Research Group (SRG).

The study found that Chinese Canadians spend an average of 2.3 hours a day using the Internet, compared with 1.9 hours watching TV and 1.2 hours listening to the radio. The leading web destinations are Google and Yahoo, with 40% and 38% of respondents respectively saying they visit the sites in a typical week. The Chinese language web sites 51.com (and 51.ca) and Wenxuecity, as well as web-based email service Hotmail, round out their top five online destinations.

South Asian Canadians, meanwhile, spend an average of two hours a day online, slightly higher than TV (1.9 hours) and ahead of radio (1.3 hours). Google is also the leading online destination for this group, with 48% visiting the site in a typical week.

The findings are based on telephone interviews with 1,000 people 18+ of Chinese and South Asian heritage as part of SRG’s ongoing Diversity in Canada study.

There are over 1.1 million people who self-identify as South Asian or Chinese in the Toronto area, according to the 2006 Census. These populations are projected to grow by 50% over the next 10 years.

SRG president Kaan Yigit told MiC that the data reflects the Internet’s ability to deliver information and entertainment from around the globe, a crucial factor for recent immigrants. ‘Given the fact that so much information and media from home is available on the Internet, it’s a very natural turn of events,’ he said.

Both groups remain avid users of traditional media, however.

Forty-two per cent of Chinese Canadians, for example, read Toronto newspaper Sing Tao in a typical week, while 30% read Ming Pao. Nearly half (47%) of all TV viewing among Toronto’s Chinese consumers is of ethnic programming, with Fairchild Television the leading TV channel, followed by all-news channel CP24 and OMNI 2.

The Toronto Star is the newspaper of choice among South Asian Canadians, with 39% reading the publication in a typical week. It is followed by the Toronto Sun and the free daily Metro.

680 News is the leading radio station, followed by 530 AM (a multicultural station offering South Asian programming) and Sur Saagar Radio, a Punjabi station available via cable TV.

CP24 is the most-watched TV station, with 27% of South Asian Canadians saying they watch the channel in a typical week, followed by ATN, SET Asia and Citytv.

‘It’s not like television, radio and newspapers don’t have audiences, but Internet is very strong,’ said Yigit. ‘[Marketers] have to use all the channels available to them in order to have maximum reach and impact.’

The study also found that recent immigrants to Canada are almost twice as likely as the average Canadian to watch a TV show online (61% versus 32%), are more likely to own a laptop computer (78% versus 58%) and are more likely to download a movie through either legal means or file sharing (52% versus 25%).