US Time Spent with Media 2019

Digital Time Keeps Rising as Growth Subsides for Total Time Spent

Time Spent with Media 2019

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Forecasts for nine markets: US, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Latin America, South Korea, UK; as well as mobile and social media time spent in the US

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Executive Summary

While growth in consumers’ total time spent with media has nearly stalled, time with digital is still increasing—slightly offsetting continued declines in time spent with TV and other old media.

Is time spent with media still rising?

Just slightly. We estimate that time spent with media this year by US adults (ages 18+) will average 12 hours, 9 minutes per day. That’s up just 1 minute from 2018. But time spent with digital keeps rising significantly as time with traditional media declines.

What are the main winners and losers in time spent?

Digital video is a big winner. Digital audio is also gaining. TV is the big loser, as penetration declines and time spent falls, even among those who remain as viewers. (And TV penetration among adults falls below internet user penetration for the first time.) Within digital, desktop/laptop is a loser as more and more time spent goes to mobile.

Is time spent with smartphones still rising?

It is, though less so than earlier in the decade when penetration rose steeply. The slower gains in penetration still boost smartphone time across the total adult population. So do increases in time spent among users as people get more mileage out of their phones.

Are US adults cutting back on time with social networks?

Not yet. But growth in time spent has nearly stalled, partly as Facebook users reduce time spent there. Desktop/laptop social time is nearly disappearing—dwindling to just 3 minutes per day this year, vs. 49 minutes for mobile—as social usage becomes almost entirely mobile.

Is share of ad spending for various media in sync with share of consumer time spent?

More so than in the past. TV spending now aligns closely with TV time spent. Mobile’s share of spending exceeds its share of time spent, while desktop/laptop’s share of money falls short.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report gives a guided tour of our forecasts for time spent with media in the US, with special attention to video, mobile, social, and how shares of ad spending align or don’t with shares of consumer time spent.

An important note on how we account for multitasking in our estimates of time spent with media: If someone spends an hour watching TV (for example) and uses a smartphone to surf the web during the same hour, we count this as an hour of usage for each medium, and hence as 2 hours of total media time.

KEY STAT: While digital accounts for over half of the daily average of the 12 hours, 9 minutes that US adults spend using media, TV still gets a big share of the total.

Behind the Numbers

Our methodology for US time spent with media forecast is based on an analysis of 2,580 metrics from 133 sources. This analysis involves the collection of third-party data—primarily survey data—from adult respondents, asking them about their media use habits. Data is also sourced from online and mobile activity tracking services, government data and interviews with industry experts.

Using a bottom-up analysis, we assess and analyze reported time spent with each device and media activity across various sources. And where definitions differ, the data is normalized and interpreted in terms of our definition (i.e., the US population ages 18 and older). The data is then aggregated with the time contributions from each device and media type to arrive at an estimate for average time spent with media per day.

In order to arrive at forecasts for growth rates by media and by device, this analysis is followed by extensive assessments of historical and expected future growth patterns with regard to device adoption, multiple and overlapping device usage, population and demographic factors, and competitors to existing devices and activities.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. A Timeout for Major Change in Time Spent with Media
  3. An Overview of Our Main Time Spent Numbers
  4. Trends in Focus: Time Spent with TV and Digital Video
  1. Trends in Focus: Time Spent with Mobile
  2. Trends in Focus: Time Spent with Social
  3. How Ad Spending Aligns (or Doesn’t) with Time Spent
  4. Key Takeaways
  1. eMarketer Interviews
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Greg Anderson
Xaxis Media Group North America
Managing Director, Media
Interviewed May 1, 2019
Jamie Arvizu
Director, Media Research and Insights
Interviewed April 26, 2019
Jen Parbus
Director and Partner
Interviewed April 25, 2019
Douglas Rozen
Chief Media Officer
Interviewed April 23, 2019
Jon Schulz
Viant Technology
Interviewed April 26, 2019


Mark Dolliver


Chris Bendtsen
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Jaimie Chung
Associate Product Manager
Eric Haggstrom
Forecasting Analyst
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Oscar Orozco
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Monica Peart
Senior Director, Forecasting
Showmik Podder
Forecasting Analyst
Shelleen Shum
Director, Forecasting
Sharon Tan
Martín Utreras
VP, Forecasting
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst