IBM says Internet could eclipse TV viewing

The Internet is becoming consumers’ primary entertainment source.

Time spent on the Internet is getting close to the viewing time the average consumer spends in front of the television set, IBM reported last week.

In results from a new global survey, IBM said 60 percent reported that they spend one to four hours using the Internet, versus 66 percent who spend the time watching television. Also, 19 percent of respondents said they spend six or more hours a day on the Internet, versus 9 percent for TV.

Much of that online time, IBM said, is spent watching online video — with 67 percent of global consumers saying they watch video on the Internet, or would like to do so.

The most popular online destinations are YouTube (at 39 percent), TV network sites (33 percent), search engines (32 percent) and social-network sites (28 percent).

“The Internet is becoming consumers’ primary entertainment source,” Saul Berman, who leads IBM’s media and entertainment strategies business, told Cox News Service. “The TV is increasingly taking a back seat to the cell phone and personal computer,” especially among consumers age 18 to 34.

Mobile video also got high consumer marks internationally, with 35 percent of those surveyed saying they already watch or would like to watch mobile video. IBM found considerable demand for “traditional” TV content over mobile systems.

Research said consumers are split on how they will pay for the mobile content they view, with about one-third opting for free, ad-supported programming and 20 percent preferring pay subscription or per-item fees.

IBM also found that DVR technology has transformed the way people watch television. Twenty-four percent of the IBM global survey respondents said they own a DVR and watch at least half of their TV programming in replay mode.

Clay Helm, an IBM spokeswoman, told Cox the survey results weren’t unexpected. Two years ago, IBM conducted a related study that also indicated TV — like other forms of media — was steadily losing ground to the Internet. He said if anything, the data suggests that things are happening at a more accelerated rate than most may have thought.

The global survey included about 2000 respondents, including 885 Americans. It was conducted in April through June of this year.