Roper ’05 Survey Indicates TV Reaching 94 Percent of Adults

Mar 28, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Television viewing is up a bit from five years ago, according to Roper Public Affairs & Media’s latest Media Comparison Study, released last week. However, some media agency executives feel the new study lacks the depth to assess an increasingly complex video environment.

The 2005 study-conducted between Jan. 19 and Feb. 1-says that TV reaches 94 percent of all adults, a 1 percent improvement from when the study was last conducted, in 2000. Roper has conducted such studies every five years since 1970. This year’s study is being sponsored by The MediaCenter, a marketing company that serves local TV stations.

Radio scored second-best in this area, reaching 73 percent of adults but is down from a 76 percent five years ago. The Internet made the biggest gain, rising to 51 percent of all adults from 35 percent in 2000. Newspapers experienced slight declines, while magazines stayed the same.

All told, TV viewing for adults climbed 11 percent to an average 272 minutes per day or just over 4½ hours. A major part of TV’s gain came from women, whose viewing jumped 15 percent. Viewing by men stayed the same versus five years ago.

Barbara Zeiger, president of The MediaCenter, believes the higher viewing comes from adults who work at home, where the TV set is more frequently on. More television viewing is taking place in traditional workplaces as well.

“Lifestyle issues play a part,” said Ms. Zeiger. “There is greater accessibility to TV in places such as the office, or with handheld TVs that allow viewing in less traditional environments such as at the beach or at sporting events.”

Women still account for more TV viewing than men. Women also read more newspapers and magazines than do men. Men use the Internet and radio more than women, according to the survey.

In comparison with five years ago, women have increased their usage of TV, newspapers and the Internet. At the same time, women used slightly less radio and magazines than five years ago. Men’s Internet and magazine usage is higher than in 2000, lower for radio and newspapers and flat for television.

Television also shows better numbers across all upper-income adults. Women who earn $75,000 or more annually witnessed a 16 percent gain, and upper-income men saw a 7 percent improvement.

This makes sense, Ms. Zeiger said, because viewers who have more money generally spend more on enhancements such as high-definition TVs, digital video recorders and video-on-demand services.

“You aren’t going to buy a $2,000 flat-screen TV and not use it,” Ms. Zeiger said.

The study also looked at the levels of awareness for various media when it came to advertising, an area where TV again took the top spot. Fifty-one percent of adults became aware of products and brands from television. Magazines came in a distant second at 19 percent of adults. Internet was next (13 percent), then newspapers (12 percent) and finally radio (5 percent).

The Roper study’s somewhat simple approach of measuring just the broad media categories of-television, radio, newspapers, Internet and magazines bothers some media agency research analysts, who say more niche groups as well as other research factors are needed.

“Is it surprising that we spend more time with TV? No, not at all,” said Stacey Lynn Koerner, executive VP and director of global research integration for Initiative Media, New York. “But it’s really not the way we evaluate different media channels. It’s not like you want to pick one medium against the other. They all do different things.”

Ms. Koerner said the study should have gone further. While there are categories showing which media are the most authoritative, influential, persuasive and exciting-all in which TV scored much higher than other media-there isn’t a category for “most informative,” she said.

“In terms of building awareness, television has the biggest reach, is most instantaneous and provides shared experiences; however, it’s probably not the most effective media for building ‘consideration’ to buy products,” she said.

She added: “We are finding that the Internet surpasses all other media in helping consumers in deciding what to buy. It’s got greater depth of content and is more on-demand than the one-way portal of co-m——mun–ication of TV. It’s like using a library.”

Senior VP and Corporate Research Dir-ector for media agency Horizon Media Brad Adgate said the survey didn’t break down TV into dayparts. If it did it would have shown which parts of TV have been growing.

For instance, though TV viewing has been rising, much of that isn’t happening during prime-time hours but during early morning, daytime or late-night, Mr. Adgate said.

Mr. Adgate said the survey’s conclusion that adult viewing averages 4½ hours per day make sense. He noted that teens generally watch somewhat less TV, only about three hours a day. Older adults and women generally watch more TV than the average adult, he added.

Overall television viewership data from the study makes sense to media research analysts.

“That TV has gone from 93 percent to 94 percent tells me that TV, however defined, is still a powerful medium, and I would argue it is even more so by some of the technological change that is coming to us,” said Tim Hanlon, senior VP and director of emerging contact for Starcom MediaVest Group, Chicago.

But he said that with the Internet, wireless and other forms of distribution growing, the simple all-in-one category of television should be altered.

“In five years, the definition of the medium will change,” Mr. Hanlon said. “The quaint term of ‘television’ may need some adjusting. It’s not [as much] about watching television as it is consuming video. If last weekend I was watching an out-of-market NCAA game via CSTV.com, would I credit that behavior to television-or to broadband video? Which one gets the credit for that?”

That’s not to say that aggregating media under one category such as television isn’t important, Mr. Hanlon said. But, he said, media sellers and buyers will need research to explore many niche media channels.

“It’s the law of physics that people are going to consume video in more individual and niche manners,” Mr. Hanlon said. “The challenge is for media companies and advertisers to aggregate them more appropriately so they can put together a mass [media] that is marketable.”