Connected Aussies spend more time online than watching TV

But Australians lead the charge in high-def TV and home theatre adoption

Australians are spending more time accessing media on the Internet than they are watching television or movies, according to a study of more than 850 broadband users.

The "connected consumer" study commissioned by Cisco, and conducted by research firm Illuminas, surveyed 864 broadband users from Australia, 219 from New Zealand, 1500 from Europe and 1085 from the US to determine what influenced their purchase of Internet services and multimedia consumption.

The study found that Australian consumers spend a weekly average of 22 hours surfing the Internet, eight hours listening to or downloading music and three hours gaming, contributing to a total of 47 hours conducting media-related activities online either at work or home. This compares to just 14 hours in front of the television.

Only New Zealand (48 hours), the UK (47 hours) and the US (47 hours) beat Australia in terms of hours spent online each week.

Managing director of Illuminas, Jay Shutter, said that while it was important to recognise that the respondents are broadband consumers and therefore tend to be more connected than the average consumer, it comes as no surprise that the Internet now demands more time than the television.

"It really doesn't surprise me. Spending 47 hours on the Internet during the week seems like a lot of time, but we are globally a media driven society," Shutter said.

"The Internet has become such a centre point for not only TV content, but also how people manage their lives; get movie or theatre tickets, plan a vacation, communicate with friends, search for a new fridge, whatever it might be. The Internet has become an invaluable resource for so many elements of the digital lifestyle."

According to the survey, Australians own an average of seven devices, the most prevalent being mobile phones (96 percent), desktop PCs (89 percent), digital cameras (85 percent), MP3 players (61 percent), laptop/notebooks (57 percent) and gaming consoles (54 percent).

External storage devices, home theatre systems, DVRs, flat panel or projector televisions, portable DVD players, high definition televisions and portable gaming consoles all came in at under 41 percent penetration. Yet, Australian households boast the highest numbers of high-def television and home theatre system adoption compared to NZ, Europe and the US.

On the home network front, the survey found that just over a third of Australians have a wired home network, just over a third have a wireless home network, and a third have no home network at all.

The vast majority (70 percent) of home networks are used for enabling multiple computers to connect to the Internet. The most popular reasons given for being connected were accessing e-mail (62 percent), being accessible to family and friends (53 percent) and needing to be connected at all times (42 percent).

The most popular method of accessing online media amongst respondents was using a Web site to watch videos (46 percent), followed closely by using a Web site to download music (45 percent). Only 23 percent use their mobile phone to access media online.

Short video or music clips on sites such as YouTube are the most popular form of content accessed (36 percent), followed by news programs (23 percent), TV programs (21 percent) and full length movies (18 percent). The majority of respondents indicated that the Internet was the preferred medium to access content as it was free, followed by convenience (37 percent) and the ability to view missed content when it originally aired (31 percent).

Mobile media consumption was found to be continually low, with only 2 percent saying they had used their phone to access short video or music clips, news, sport events, TV programs or movies on a daily basis. Less than 4 percent indicated a likelihood of using their mobile phones to access media within the next year.

"What we are seeing is the mobile device today is not yet where it needs to be to really drive people to spend time watching movies," Shutter said.

"People are more likely to be accessing news, short video clips or games on their mobiles, but not a very high percentage of people are doing any of these on a regular basis. It will take time for that whole technology to work itself out in terms of higher broadband speeds to the mobile device, and a form factor that is good for watching those," he said.

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