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Internet Usage Interrupted Briefly by the TV

The U.S. household spending on pay-TV, broadband, and mobile phone services will be about the same for most consumers, but about 15 percent apparently intend to cut back. That's likely subject to a change in their employment status, of course.

As a result, In-Stat estimates that consumer spending across these three service segments could see nearly a $5 billion decrease during the next 12 months. Yet their recent survey reveals that broadband service is among the most integral parts of people lives.

Why? Over 66 million consumers across demographic categories are using the Internet while watching television. I call this just-in-case TV viewing. Leave the TV on, volume lowered, periodically scanning channels -- in the hope that something engaging appears. Meanwhile, TV advertisers still pay a premium for this media. Truly amazing.

"Some male age groups had 40 to 50 percent of respondents using a PC while watching TV, and about 30 percent of females under the age of 40 are also using a PC while watching TV," says Gerry Kaufhold, In-Stat analyst.

New approaches using online web portals synchronized to a TV program will continue to develop, because they present no new costs. Cable TV operators also face increasing competition from lightweight services that deliver popular Cable programming, supplemented by content delivered via broadband.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- Consumer multitasking while watching TV varies significantly depending on demographic characteristics, but it's a growth trend.

- Several companies are identifying new opportunities to align TV to people simultaneously viewing a related web site.

- Low-cost Netbook PCs could represent a $2.4 billion opportunity; presumably if sold to people who use it in front of their TV.

- No surprise, the biggest decrease in spending on mobile, broadband and pay-TV services will come from households with annual income below $35,000.

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