University of Southern California

How Much Media? 2013

Report on American Consumers

James E. Short

Executive Summary

By 2015, it is estimated that Americans will consume both traditional and digital media for over 1.7 trillion hours, an average of approximately 15 and a half hours per person per day. The amount of media delivered will exceed 8.75 zettabytes annually, or 74 gigabytes - 9 DVDs worth - of data sent to the average consumer on an average day. A zettabyte is 10 raised to the 21st power bytes, a million million gigabytes. These estimates are from an analysis of more than 30 different sources of media data, ranging from traditional media (TV, Radio, Voice telephony) to new digital sources (tablet computers, mobile gaming devices, smartphones, mobile video). Media consumed while at work is not included.

We define media consumed as flows of data delivered to households and to people, and we measured the time of consumption and the byte throughput of the data delivered. Video sources dominate bytes, with 3.8 zettabytes coming from television and 2.46 zettabytes from computer gaming. If hours are used as the measurement, media delivered is much more widely distributed, with substantial amounts from radio, Internet applications such as social media, browsing and search, and others including messaging and email communications. All of our results are estimates, based on publicly released data from data providers including Neilsen and ComScore, media company disclosures, and analysts.

Hours of consumption grew at just over 5% a year from 2008-2013, due to a combination of increasing viewer hours per capita, from 11 hours per day to an average of over 14 hours per day, and population growth. Averaged across all media sources, media delivered in bytes is growing at a rate of 18% per year. This is less than the capacity to process data, driven by Moore’s Law, rising at least 30 percent a year, but is still impressive.

Traditional media continues to dominate our daily media consumption, with TV and Radio contributing 60% of the hours. New digital sources, however, are having major effects on most forms of media consumption. Over half of all media bytes are now received by computers, with mobile computers the most rapidly growing segment. In 2008, mobile computers accounted for approximately 3% of all bytes, by 2013 it is almost 10%, representing a year over year growth rate of 27 percent.

While in the past media consumption was overwhelmingly passive - we sat and watched TV or listened to radio - new media consumption is increasingly interactive, with time-delayed, multi-tasking and interrupted viewership fast becoming the typical consumptive behavior.

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