…but the medium is proving surprisingly stubborn.
TV, like radio before it, has proved remarkably stubborn as the world’s most popular medium. So while internet usage probably surpassed television hours some years ago in your household, worldwide it’s a different story. Projections from media agency Zenith, however, suggest that 2019 will be the tipping point where the internet finally topples the television set.
It’s a trend that has been a long time coming. As the graph compiled by Quartz below shows, minutes spent watching TV have been holding remarkably steady since 2011, but the rise of internet use – driven by smartphone adoption worldwide – is skyrocketing.
There’s an important caveat to this, though: the television stat only includes broadcasts sent via TV signals, which means that the likes of Netflix and YouTube contribute to the internet’s growth rather than television’s. In other words, a TV-like medium is still commanding a lot of eyeballs, and inspiring a lot of creations: remember that every day 65 years of video is uploaded to YouTube (albeit most of it unwatched). Perhaps even more unfairly, this stat presumably also includes content created for broadcast and then shown online as well, such as iPlayer and 4oD.
Seen through that lens, it’s perhaps surprising that it still remains a close fight. Even in 2019, the average is going to be remarkably close: 170.6 minutes a day of internet access versus 170.3 minutes for television, but remember this is a global stat. The increased focus on emerging markets for smartphones has definitely given the internet a shot in the arm, with nearly a quarter of all internet access seen through the tiny screens of mobile phones – up from just 5% in 2011.
In fact, it’s this boost that is really driving the internet’s recent surge. Television remains comfortably ahead throughout Europe, and is a nose ahead in the Americas. As the Quartz graph below shows, the internet boom is being led from Asia, the Middle East and Africa:
It’s no wonder that companies like Facebook and Google are looking at emerging markets for future growth: in their traditional markets of Europe and America, old media habits die hard.