Web No Threat to Traditional Media, Finds Arbitron Newmedia Study

This may come as no surprise to Stereophile's website audience, but a report released last week finds that the heaviest users of the World Wide Web are also avid consumers of traditional media, listening to CDs and radio and watching television as they point their browsers to e-commerce, informational, and recreational sites.

According to the latest Pathfinder Study just released by Arbitron NewMedia, the amount of time heavy Web users spend with TV, radio, audio tapes/CDs, newspapers, and magazines exceeds that of light Web users. With the exception of TV, the report finds that traditional media consumption by heavy Web users also matches or exceeds that of all individuals combined, including those who don't have access to the Internet.

The study found that during the peak hour for Web use at work, 9-10am, 26% of heavy Web users reported listening to the radio, a higher percentage of radio listening than that reported by light or non-Web users. During the peak hour of Internet use at home, 8-9pm, 52% of heavy Web users reported that they watched television, a level only slightly lower than that of all Web users (55%) or of the total population (59%). While radio use was more than three times that reported for listening to CDs, CD listening outpaced newspaper and magazine use.

Interestingly, the report finds that specific radio formats, network programs, cable networks, and newspaper sections were associated with specific types of Web users: light, medium, or heavy. Heavy Web users had these favorites in these media: in radio, classic rock; in network television, The Simpsons; in cable networks, the Discovery and Learning Channels and HBO; in newspapers, the business news.

Dr. Roberta McConochie, director of research for Arbitron NewMedia, notes that the "Pathfinder results show no evidence that increasing Web use is usurping all the time spent with the traditional media. Web marketers should continue to take advantage of the cross-media synergies to efficiently promote their sites, reinforce Internet brands, and drive Web traffic. At the same time, the traditional media should continue to extend their brands and franchises into cyberspace." Arbitron says that additional data will become available throughout 1999 and 2000.