Net takes a chunk out of TV audience

As Europeans get more experience online, they are watching 10-15 percent less television, finds a new report

The Internet is providing print media with new opportunities, but is increasingly stealing TV audiences, reports Forrester Research on Monday.

The Media Cannibalisation Begins report finds that while two in five Europeans now have Internet access, newspapers are faring the best of all traditional media. Online consumers are still relying most on newspapers for news information, despite extensive free content on the Web.

"Publishers should ensure that their newspaper properties continue to reach the loyal online readers in its 'hot metal' online edition and that those revenues from associated online editions, advertising and e-commerce are realised," said Paul Jackson, analyst at Forrester Technographics.

The study revealed that news isn't one of the initial draws of the Internet. Only 16 percent of those who have been online for less than six months state that the Internet is their primary source for national and world news. This figure increases to 35 percent for those who have two or more years experience on the Internet. 89 percent of the European online population still prefer newspapers as their main source of local news, whilst a mere 15 percent would turn to the Internet for this information.

"With the exception of travel, the Net isn't even close to the top source of information in the vast majority of our categories," claimed Jackson.

But heavy TV-viewing markets are being hit hard by increasing Internet take-up in Europe. The Forrester research finds that the more Net users gain experience online, the less they watch TV. In TV addict nations such as Britain and Germany, those with Internet access are watching between 10 and 15 percent less TV each week than offline users. Jackson predicts that TV watching will fall further with growing consumer adoption of broadband online access.

Forrester is warning that now "cannibalisation" has begun, media companies should prepare themselves for the approaching mulitmedia storm. Broadcasters, advertisers and publishers are being advised to work together to acquire customers across multiple channels, so that they are loyal to the brand rather than the medium.

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