SDSC Study Finds American Media Consumption Rising

SDSC Study Finds American Media Consumption Rising

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Nearly two thirds of Americans’ daily routines may be spent interacting with digital media by 2020, the new study finds

Americans may be exposed to an average of approximately 15.5 hours of traditional and digital media per person per day by the year 2015, according to a new report from San Diego Supercomputer Center researcher James E. Short.

In Short’s report, “How Much Media? 2013 Report on American Consumers” created in conjunction with University of Southern California Institute for Communications Technology Management, he examines how the relative growth and total volume of media changed from the years 2008 to 2012 and the years beyond. According to his report, media consumption grew at just over 5 percent a year, and, averaged across all media sources, media delivered in bytes grows at a rate of 18 percent per year.

The report defines media consumed as flow of data delivered to households and people. It does not account for multitasking and attention to or consumption of media. Media consumed at work such as using work email or taking notes in class is not included; the study focuses strictly on entertainment-orientated media including social media browsing.

“For me, it is important to know the volume of media that is delivered,” Short said. “[It is] important that people know that this number [15.5 hours] is what you get if you add everything up — and it’ll go over 24 hours in a media day very soon.”

By 2015, the report estimates that Americans will consume a total of 1.7 trillion hours each year of traditional and digital media. That is equal to 6.9 zettabytes — according to Short’s study, if 6.9 zettabytes of text were printed in books and stacked across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, the pile would be almost 14 feet high.

The volume of media was examined through a baseline study of 30 media types including satellite radio, tablet computers, smartphones and mobile video. The report takes data from public sources such as Neilson and ComScore, media company disclosures and analysts. Surprisingly, traditional media such as TV and radio remains responsible for the highest levels of daily media consumption, contributing 60 percent of the hours. Mobile computers are a growing sector — in 2008, it accounted for 3 percent of all bytes, which increased to 10 percent in 2013.

The report says that the 15.5 hours is requested from media services and providers, but it does not mean that it is the amount of information a person actively attends to. The study indicates the growth in volume but not actual attention or comprehension of media.

“The simplest example is when you go home and turn on the TV to watch a football game but walk out of the room,” Short said. “This means that what people are requesting and what is being delivered by providers is increasing, but consumptive time is not. It is flat.”

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