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The internet has become increasingly important to US consumers as a medium for information and entertainment, and is approaching the level of television in being “most essential,” according to the “Internet and Multimedia 2007” report by Edison Media Research and Arbitron.

Some 33% of consumers age 12 and older, asked to choose the “most essential” medium in their life, selected the internet, just behind television (36%), but ahead of radio (17%) and newspapers (10%).

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Five year earlier, the internet trailed TV by a significant margin (20% vs. 39%) and also trailed radio (26%).

The internet already leads television among those age 12-17, 18-24, 25-34, and 35-44. Only above age 45 do any age groups still put television in first place.

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Other highlights from the study:

  • “Least essential” medium:
    • Newspapers had the most mentions as least essential: 35%
    • The internet was mentioned by 24% (it was the most mentioned in 2002, by 33%)
    • Radio and television had the fewest mentions, with 18% of respondents.
  • “Most cool and exciting” medium; the Internet and television have swapped places:
    • The internet is now mentioned by 38% as the most cool and exciting (vs. 25% in 2002)
    • 35% now say television is the most cool and exciting (vs. 48% in 2002).

edison-arbitron-internet-most-cool-age-groups.gif

  • Medium “using more lately”:
    • The internet approaches the lead for this perception, up to 34% (from 19% in 2002)
    • TV still leads with 37% (compared with 41% in 2002).

 edison-arbitron-internet-use-most-lately.gif

“It is not a stretch to say that the Internet has become just as important as television as an important source of information and entertainment in the lives of Americans,” said Larry Rosin, president of Edison Media Research.

“It is entirely possible that the Internet will lead in all positive categories five years from now. Edison Media Research and Arbitron will continue to track these items, and of course report to the public on the changes.”

About the study: In January and February 2007, 1,855 telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older chosen at random from a national sample of Arbitron’s Fall 2006 survey diarykeepers. In certain geographic areas (representing 4% of the national population), where a sample of Arbitron diarykeepers was not available for the survey, a supplemental sample was interviewed through random digit dialing.

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