Friday, March 10, 2006

Changes in media consumption patterns

Two unrelated stories indicate that there may be a large shift in the way in which we consume media, which could have implications for policy (if only policy was informed by empirical evidence). The first is that 2005 saw a drop in movie attendance, despite being a year that saw plenty of blockbusters released, such as Revenge of the Sith, The Island, King Kong and War of the Worlds. It is difficult to ascertain the reasons behind the drop - one could argue that it is only caused by the fact that the movies released last year were not that good. One could also argue that people are happy waiting for movies to be released on DVD and watch them in their increasingly impressive home theatres.

Another interesting news item is that according to the BBC, people spend more time surfing the internet than watching TV. This shift is understandable due to increased broadband and better and more varied content online. TV ratings now should start taking into account that many people will prefer to watch entire series on DVD or to download them. Series such as Lost and Galactica are now offered for download in iTunes, and one can even watch the next episode of The IT Crowd online right after the show.

Is traditional media dead?


David M said...

We have to be very careful with these types of statistics as watching television has low social status and using the Internet has a high social status.

Naturally this affects how people tick the boxes - no one wants to be thought of as dumb. Also people dramatically underestimate how much time they spend watching television...

Remember lies, damned lies and statistics...

Andres Guadamuz said...

Hello David,

That's a very good point, but how can this social element be measured out?

Speaking for myself, I'm sure that I spend more time online than watching TV, but this is due in part to my job and my hobbies.

David M said...

I think the best way is through clever questioning. So rather than ask how much TV you watch, ask the respondents to tick those shows which they have watched in the last month, or which adverts they have seen etc. That will give some idea of the amount of time they have been watching TV albeit approximate. This could then be supplemented with a more straightforward, how much TV do you think you watched in the last month/week kind of question.

For the Internet, I suppose you would first have to factor out work (which if you're paid to do it is not a use in leisure time) and then maybe ask about technical expertise, whether they read blogs/v-blogs/online newspapers. etc etc.

The best answer though would come from a quantative social scientist (I am more qualitative in my approach).