Media usage dwindling, study finds

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NEW YORK -- Consumers spent less time with media last year, marking the first decline in usage since 1997, according to a study released Tuesday by private-equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

Consumers spent an average of 3,350 hours using media in 2006, a 0.5% drop from 2005, the study found.

The drop in media usage was a result of the continued proliferation of "digital alternatives for news, information and entertainment," according to the study. Consumers spend at least 30 minutes per day sitting watching broadcast or cable television but they only spend five to seven minutes watching user-generated content online.

Consumers also are spending more time with "consumer-supported media," such as cable TV and video games, to the detriment of ad-supported media, including broadcast TV and newspapers. Consumer-supported usage grew 19.8% last year, while ad-supported usage fell 6.3%.

Pure-play Internet and mobile services and branded entertainment are expected to be among the fastest-growing media segments during the next five years. The study predicted that online advertising will total nearly $62 billion by 2011, passing newspapers as the largest ad medium.

The findings are found in VSS' "Communications Industry Forecast 2007-2011," a study the group has published for 21 years.
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