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American Media Usage Patterns

While some industry observers say the 30-second spot is teetering on the brink of collapse, TV remains the 800-pound media gorilla in terms of consumers' media usage habits, according to exclusive research unveiled Monday during Forecast 2006. In fact, media usage is the leading life activity by time, with consumers using media nearly nine hours per day.

More than 40 percent of that time, media was the only activity pursued -- which is to say it wasn't accompanied by work, play, shopping, or any other activity. These and other findings are at the core of media usage studies known as the "Middletown Media Studies," which were conducted by Ball State University's Center for Media Design in Muncie, Indiana. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, the research offers the first detailed look at how consumers actually use media throughout the day -- from the time they wake up through the workday and social commitments, until the time they go to sleep. The average time spent observing consumers' media usage habits was 12.9 hours per day.

The researchers found that TV was viewed on average four hours a day per person during the time they observed them, while they logged a little over two hours a day on the PC. They also found that over 30 percent of the media day, consumers use two or more media per day. TV usage dominates the home and radio dominates the car, but after that, media use is more variable. The researchers found that nearly 30 percent of the people surveyed watch TV outside the home, accounting for 9.4 percent of all TV viewing.

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