Ipsos: internet beats TV in hours spent

For the first time since the research firm started tracking it, Canadian adults' weekly online usage has surpassed that of TV.

A harbinger of things to come? An anomaly? A Christmas blip?

We may not know the reasons yet, but we do know the result: in the final quarter of 2009, the number of hours Canadians spent using the internet surpassed the number of hours they spent watching TV for the first time since Ipsos Reid starting tracking such data in the first quarter of 2007.

Canadians spent an average of 18.1 hours online in the last three months of 2009, a little over an hour more than they spent watching TV. That represents a spike in internet usage over the year prior, in which Canadians averaged 14.9 hours online. However, the number of hours watching TV increased as well, from an average of 15.8 hours to 16.9. The other media in the study – newspapers, radio, magazines – remained stable. (A finding reflected for newspapers in last week’s NADbank report.)

As found in previous reports, demographics play a role in how media is consumed, but the differences are far less pronounced in online usage than in TV. Eighteen- to 34-year-olds spend about 20 hours a week online, while those over 35 spend an average of 18. However adults over 55 spend an average of 20 hours watching TV a week, while 18- to 34-year-olds spend an average of 13 hours per week.

‘The data indicates that not only are people of all ages spending more and more time online, but it also points to a shift in how online Canadians are consuming media and where they are spending their free time,’ study author Mark Laver said in a release. ‘Today, online Canadians are finding a myriad of entertainment options available to them within the walls of their homes. While some entertainment content has simply shifted from television to online, the internet is also providing new content to Canadians.’

The findings are from an Ipsos Reid syndicated study called the Inter@ctive Reid Report, conducted using the Ipsos online panel and involving 839 Canadian adults. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample.