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TV or not TV … or to surf the web instead?

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2004 – March 2013 (n = 484,946).

There was a time when parents bribed their kids to behave/do their homework/clean their bedrooms by threatening to withhold their TV viewing privileges. These days, they’d have more success confiscating Junior’s computer or mobile device. Younger Australians are spending more time than ever online, and less watching TV, according to the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research.

Back in 2005, Generation Z* was watching an average 2 hours 29 minutes of TV per weekday and an average 5 hours 49 minutes on weekends. As of March 2013, this had decreased to 1:43 on weekdays and 4:17 on weekends. Meanwhile, the time they spend online has shot up from 1:53 to 3:24 per weekday; and from 4:33 to 7:38 on weekends.

Generation Y’s* TV and internet usage has followed a similar trajectory, with the average time they spend online rising from 1:33 to 3:11 per weekday and 2:48 to 5:58 on weekends. Their TV viewing has dropped off significantly as a result. Generation X* is also spending less time watching television and more on the internet, although their habits haven’t changed as dramatically as Gens Y and Z.

Average weekly hours spent on media by Australians since 2005

weekly time on media

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2004 – March 2013 (n = 484,946).

Television still tops

While the internet’s impact on Australians’ TV viewing is undeniable, the power of television can’t be discounted. The average Australian aged 14+ watches an average 19 hours 18 minutes’ worth of TV per week, ahead of the average 16 hours 10 minutes they spend online.

Indeed, older Aussies are watching a little more TV than they were in 2005. The average time spent by Pre-Boomers* on weekends has increased from 7:25 to 7:30, while Baby Boomers* now watch an average 7 hours 20 minutes on weekends, up from 6:59 in 2005. It is interesting to note that while both generations are also spending more time on the internet, this hasn’t affected their TV intake.

Other media

Overall time spent reading newspapers has decreased across all generations, with a national average of 18 minutes per weekday (down from 25 minutes in 2005) and 58 minutes on weekends (down from 1:22 in 2005). Radio and magazines have seen declines in consumption too.

However, the number of Australians reading newspapers or listening to radio online is growing, and is expected to increase further as more people start using iPhones.

*Generational definitions:

Pre-Boomers: born pre-1946; Baby Boomers: 1946-1960; Generation X: 1961-1975; Generation Y: 1976-1990; Generation Z: 1991-2005

George Pesutto, Industry Director — Media, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“While the time Australians spend watching TV has declined since 2005, we still spend more time watching it than we do consuming other media, including the internet. Television remains an important media channel in Australia.

“SBS’s recent relaunch of SBS 2 as a dedicated youth channel is a commendable attempt to thrive in these changing times, and it will be interesting to see if they succeed in wooing younger Australians back to the box.

“All media are facing the challenge of ensuring their content can be consumed online, and this is going to become more crucial into the future. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets allow us to access all our media ‘on the go’, whether it’s reading the newspaper or streaming radio on the train or watching that TV show you missed on your tablet. This all counts as time spent online, and its growing popularity shows that people expect their media be available at their convenience, no matter where they happen to be at the time.”

Visit the Roy Morgan Online Store to access an extensive range of customer profiles and reports, including time spent with media, TV viewer profiles, and internet user profiles. These profiles provide an overview of their demographics, attitudes, activities and media usage.

For comments or more information please contact:

George Pesutto

Industry Director — Media

Office: +61 (3) 9224 5206

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%