Despite the decline of print media, it’s generally a given that TV still forms the foundation of the average consumer media diet. For example, the results from the recent (UK) Ofcom Communications Market Report were clear. When asked to choose one can’t live without medium, 50% of consumers chose TV with the PC+Internet in a distant second place at 15% and mobile phones at 11% (print scored 4%).
However a Pew Report from the US (via the NY Times) provides a slightly different take on the role of TV. The title of the report – ‘The Fading Glory of the Television and Telephone’ – already tells you what you need to know. Only 42% out of 3,000 Americans surveyed felt that TV was a ‘necessity.’ By comparison, in 2006, 64% of Americans said they absolutely had to have one.
Pew’s research is interesting as unlike Britain’s Ofcom, TV was pitted against other every day household electrical items rather than other media.
As a result, I suspect that both the Ofcom and Pew reports are if anything complimentary. The delivery mechanism of TV is increasingly irrelevant, but the content itself is not. Hence, it’s products such as BBC iPlayer that are behind the fact that in the UK 17 million people now get their TV from the web.
TV, telephone dependence increases by age
And what about the telephone? Though 62% of Americans say that it’s a necessity (down from 68%), fewer than half (46%) of 18-29 year olds think that it is. In fact, the Pew Report has two fascinating graphs that show how some media forms get more essential by age.
Landline telephones, TVs and cable TV services become more of a necessity while you get older. While for younger audiences, it is cell phones, home computers and fast Internet access that are seen as some of life’s essentials.