Study: Interest in TV viewing on the rise

34% of Americans cite TV as favorite medium, up from '08

Even though Americans are pushing domestic boxoffice revenue to new highs, an increasing number of them are indicating they'd rather save money and watch television.

According to Deloitte's fourth annual State of the Media Democracy report, due out today, 34% of Americans cite TV as their favorite medium, up from 27% last year. Second through fourth, respectively, were Internet, music and books, all of which are perceived by the average consumer as being less expensive than a night out at the movies.

While 71% of respondents say watching TV is one of their top media choices, only 22% listed going to the movies among their top 3.

This year's results suggest that consumers are increasingly looking to stay home for their entertainment rather than open their wallets. Asked whether they are looking to scale back entertainment purchases, 72% of American consumers responded in the affirmative.

On one hand, an extra dose of frugality is to be expected in uncertain economic times, though on the other hand, conventional wisdom suggests that moviegoing transcends economics.

As suspect as that theory is (it was true during the 2001 recession, but not the 1990-91 recession), Deloitte's director of insights and innovation Ed Moran expects the boxoffice to remain strong, despite the results of Deloitte's study.

Moran says audiences are enthralled with in-theater 3D and that moviegoing remains an affordable social experience. Plus, buying a ticket is the only way to see a hot new film early, a good argument for not collapsing distribution windows.

"There's a scarcity around movies, created by windowing," Moran said.

Nevertheless, when Americans are asked to choose, they prefer TV by a wide margin, so much so that they increased their TV viewing by two hours this year over last to 17.8 hours a week.

And not only are they still enamored with television, they also remain influenced by its advertising. Asked to rate the effectiveness of ads across media, TV was first with 83%, followed by magazines at 50%. The rest were, in order: online, newspapers, radio, billboards, in-theater, DVDs, mobile phones and video games.

While DVRs challenge the traditional TV model, Americans still like to watch TV the way they always have: un-timeshifted and without skipping commercials. But the two-year trend seems a bit ominous.

Last year, 71% said their favorite way to watch was live on their home TV, while only 61% said similarly this year. Watching on DVR was second both years, rising from 19% last year to 21% this year.

After DVR is a three-way tie at 4% between free online services like Hulu, DVD or Blu-ray discs, and on-demand from their home TV system.

Moran said television stands out in this survey "because of its resilience. Americans still love TV content and love their TV sets in their living rooms."

A primary upgrade viewers are looking forward to is Internet-connected television. While 58% said last year that they'd like it, 65% said so this year.

Deloitte based the results of its report on a survey of 2,047 people ages 14-75 that was conducted from Sept. 11-Oct. 13.