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Some 26% more Americans chose TV as their favorite type of media than they did last year, according to a new study by Deloitte, which lends credence to the theory that the recession has intensified America’s love for television.

The study revealed that more than 70% of respondents ranked TV among their top-three favorite media activities; 34% placed it at the top of the list. TV also snared more than double the numbers of the second most popular media choice, the internet, which came in at 14%, according to MediaBuyerPlanner.

86% of respondents prefer watching TV on their television sets live, as opposed to using a DVR or on-demand feature. Fewer than 10% said they prefer watching the same content online, though an increasing number are doing so.

Consumers watch nearly 18 hours of television in a typical week – up from less than 16 hours last year. Millennials (ages 14-26) had the largest increase, to almost 15 hours from 10.5 hours.

Potentially foreshadowing an increasingly central role for the TV, 65% of respondents would like to be able to easily connect their home TV to the internet so that they can view videos or downloaded content. This is a significant trend that has gained strength over the last three years.

Mobile Phones of Increasing Importance

The mobile phone is a critical link for the connected American consumer and continues its popularity as an entertainment device, Deloitte found. One-third of surveyed consumers use their mobile phone as an entertainment device and 47% of smartphone owners identify their device as one of their three most valuable media and entertainment products – a significant increase from 20% last year.

Survey findings also indicate that mobile phone use is rapidly decoupling the internet experience from the desktop for almost half of the population: Nearly half (48%) of those surveyed have data plans on their mobile phones and 42% are using their phones to access the internet. This decoupling is expected to facilitate new consumer behavior including mobile search, social networking and purchasing, Deloitte predicted.

Online Shopping Heads to Mobile

The online shopping experience is already beginning to translate to the mobile device, with 15% of consumers already purchasing products with their phones. Some of the most popular mobile activities:

  • Text messaging, at 72%
  • Accessing the internet (42%)
  • Online search (30%)
  • Downloading applications (27%)
  • Using GPS (26%)

Recommendations More Useful than Online Marketing

TV continues to reign as the most influential advertising medium, with 83% of consumers identifying TV advertising as one of the top-three media with the most impact on their buying decisions. Online advertising ranks much lower in impact, with less than half identifying online advertising among the top three.

The ability of ads on websites to move traffic to other sites has dropped from 72% to 59% over the past three surveys. Respondents also show a decreased inclination to click on more internet ads, even if the ads are targeted to their needs. Those who say they would click on more internet ads if they were targeted to their needs fell from 66% in the 2007 survey to 50% in the current edition.

The survey findings point to a significant opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of social tools and engage the consumer in a more impactful way: More than half of all US consumers and 69% of Millennials say online customer reviews and ratings influence their buying decisions more than any other type of online advertising; 51% have purchased products based on an online recommendation and 24% would like to have an online service that recommends a product based on other consumers’ preferences.

According to the survey, one-quarter of US consumers are socializing online almost every day and nearly 60% currently maintain a social networking site, up from 48% last year.

About the study: Deloitte’s fourth edition State of the Media Democracy survey assesses media consumption preferences of 2,046 consumers, ages 14-75 in the US, revealing significant trends including a surge in TV viewing, the ascension of the game console as a stand-alone media platform, the mobile phone’s rapid decoupling of the internet from the desktop and the rise of tribal marketing.

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