TV viewing ticks up in 2007


BRUSSELS -- Despite fears that the Internet is taking viewers away from the small screen, people are watching more television than ever, according to a report published Tuesday.

The average daily television viewing times across the world grew to 187 minutes in 2007, up from 185 minutes in 2006 and 183 minutes in 2004, the French group Mediametrie said.

Viewers in North America watch the most television, with an average of 268 minutes per day in 2007, up from 267 minutes in 2006 and 263 minutes in 2003, the report said.

European viewing figures, at 215 minutes daily are down one minute from 2006, but still up from the 213 minutes in 2003. Latin America is up to 203 minutes daily, up from 194 minutes in 2003, but down from the high of 211 in 2005. And Asia Pacific is at 159 minutes, the same as 2003, but up after three years of lower numbers.

The report, compiled from national viewing statistics in 82 countries and covering 2.9 billion viewers, revealed rapidly changing viewing habits. It includes the proliferation of channels, and numerous new ways of receiving television thanks to DTT, mobile TV and DSL TV. Within Europe, pay TV multichannel packages have only raised viewing times by an average of 5 minutes daily, the report says.

And while historical industry leaders are now faced with increased audience fragmentation, they still remain the best bet for anyone wanting to reach the largest number of people efficiently and in an instant, the report said.

Sports are among the most watched programs worldwide, occupying the top spot in a third of countries, and featuring in the top 10 in another third. And while football was the most popular sport, there were variations: rugby in France, handball in Germany and Denmark, cricket in India and ice-skating in the Netherlands.

Among the top 10 non-sports programs, the report said that fiction claimed the lion's share of viewing with 46%, followed by entertainment with 36% and factual programs with 18%.