Me like TV!

Channel-surfers paying less attention to TV
Viewers are watching prime-time programming almost as much as they did 10 years ago, but they appear to be paying less attention, according to a new study by Knowledge Networks, a consumer-research company whose clients include networks and advertisers.
Growth in channel switching, up 42% since 1994, and multitasking, such as talking and eating, “indicate lower attentiveness,” says company vice president David Tice.
Increased channel switching, most often during ad breaks and between programs, may indicate viewers are more intent on controlling what they watch.
Trends in prime time are moving too slowly to cause alarm among advertisers, Tice says: “Viewing behavior is changing, but not drastically.” The July survey of 696 viewers ages 18-49 (comparisons with 1994 are limited to the first hour of prime time) found:
ï More people are watching alone, partly a result of more TVs in the home. More TVs mean more viewing, a plus for networks and advertisers, but solo viewers are more likely to switch channels.
ï Viewers are more likely to change channels during reality shows than scripted programs.
ï Growth in other prime-time TV uses, like video games (up from 1% in 1994 to 6%) and recording shows (from 14% to 17%), have reduced viewing of regularly scheduled shows (from 85% to 82%).
Jeffrey Cole, head of the Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, says channel switching, multitasking and digital video recorder usage threaten traditional commercials. “I think TV advertising is in its final phase as a medium that delivers national audiences to advertisers in 30-second blocks.”
But Artie Bulgrin of ESPN, a Knowledge Networks client, says TV generally remains a passive medium, and if advertisers “understand who their audience is and make their messages relevant to that audience, the 30-second spot will be around a while.”