• flipboard

Why Facebook Can’t Compete With Television

So you think mass media is dying… think again! Americans spend over 50% of their free time either parked in front of their television or watching it while engaged in other incidental activities around the home.Why Facebook Can't Compete With Television

Nielsen have released a 2010 Media Fact Sheet that reveals that 31.5 hours per week is what the average American spends watching TV!

So here are some simplistic numbers that show how much time is wasted vegetating in front of  “Lord TV”. ( I know some of you will say that you watch TV while doing things with the kids or using the computer, so you aren’t wasting your time in front of the TV).

So here are the numbers.

Total Hours Available  Per Week

24 hours x 7 days a week = 168 hours to sleep, work and play

Committed Time

5 days per week you work for 8 hours per day plus 2 hours per day getting to work including, showering, dressing and commuting = 50 hours
Sleep time per week 7 x 8 hours = 56 hours

Total committed time = 106 hours to work and sleep

Time available for other activities

168 hours less 106 hours leaving 62 available hours for pursuing other activities.


So taking the 31.5 hours of TV watching and dividing that into the 62 hours of available time after commitments to work and sleep reveals 50.8 % of available time is spent prostrate in front of the TV.

That is a bit scary!

Just imagine how good you would be at something if you took that 31.5 hours and devoted some of that time to your passion or hobby whether that be a musical instrument, photography, painting, sailing or even knitting.

Here are some of the other statistics provided by Nielsen showing the disparity of time spent with mass media compared to social media.

Mass Media: Television

  • 99% of Video Content in the US is watched on traditional mass media television
  • Average American watches 31.5 hours of TV per week
  • Kids 6-11 watch 28 hours of live TV a week
  • More households have 4 TV’s than have only one TV

New Media: Social Media

  • Facebook is used only 6 hours per month
  • Average time per viewer spent watching online video per month is only 3.33 hours per  month

Source: Nielsen 2010 Media Fact Sheet

OK, so I haven’t been able to total up all the social media hours per month due to research laziness but I can tell  you this much,  that the time spent vegetating for over 126 hours per month on front of television far exceeds social media.

The question to ask is this.

“Is  TV marketing to the numbed masses effective or just wasting advertising dollars on an audience that isn’t hearing your message?”

What do you think?

For me I would rather be blogging than watch TV (check out my post “29 Reasons Why You Should be Blogging Rather Than Watching Television” )

[polldaddy poll=3680498]

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Joseph Buchignani

    Hi Jeff,

    Great article. Thanks for the numbers. Here are my thoughts.

    All time is not created equal. People’s energy varies during the day, and that impacts their ability to focus. The web is currently almost exclusively interactive. You cannot be entertained without exerting effort to control the process. YouTube’s Leanback is an early, rough exception.

    TV allows people to entertain themselves at their lowest energy (and therefore focus) levels. One needn’t even muster the moral force to make a DVD selection and insert the disk.

    How valuable is advertising consumed during these circadian lulls, versus advertising consumed while the user is actively controlling the experience? It would seem that subliminal receptivity is higher, critical thinking is lower, and capacity to avoid ads is lower. However, targeting is also worse, because there is less user behavior to profile with, and user engagement is lower, and calls to action will not create immediate results.

    Also, not all people are created equal. The more TV a person watches, the less interesting that person probably is to an advertiser – housewives excepted. I suspect that your free time calculation and round average conceals vast demographic variances.

    Keep up the great blogging! I’ve submitted this to Stumbleupon.

    • I like the concept that not all time is created equal. Stats from both side of the Atlantic have in recent days showed that TV is continuing to be watched a lot and not fading in the face of the rise of the web, but your point is really important and leads to a couple of questions:

      1) How much TV “watching” is actually just TV in the background; and
      2) How many people consume other media whilst the TV is on?. I certainly spend a lot of time on the web whilst keeping one eye on the TV. I’ve not seen any data breaking down viewing patterns with this detail.

  • Its not facebook that is the competition to the tube, it is the aptly named “youtube”. My son spends an almost equal amount of time on both, either accessing through my iphone or the laptop.

  • Nice post Jeff. I don’t think TV advertising, if it meets your advertising budget is a waste of money. It all depends on your target audience. If they’re spending a more time on TV, then target your ads on the shows they would likely be watching. In addition, a well coordinated marketing campaign with have some TV, some social media, some print media, etc. The challenge is finding the right balance and to measure your results. Thanks for sharing. TW

  • Really stunning numbers, Jeff! I know (personally) I feel like a real knuckle-head if ever I park myself in front of the tube to “zone out”. I feel completely brain dead…which is also how I view most television advertising; with barely an ounce of attention and more than a little irritation!
    Thanks for the wake up call.

  • Wow! Really? Wow! Those numbers are crazy! I must be really weird – we turned off cable 2 yrs ago. I might watch an hour a week on hulu if I find the time to sit still that long. Reading those numbers makes me happy I’m raising my kids TV free.

  • We are Tv maniacs! But since I discovered the internet my computer has been winning the war! But even when I am glued to the seat tapping away on my keyboard I still manage to listen and see what the rest of the family is watching! I would say that Tv advertising is still worth it if you have the budget to use! RICH ;0)

  • E1even5ive

    Last I checked, Neilson sample sizes for US TV ratings were so insignificant they’d ordinarily be dismissed. Be interested to know sample size and demographics for this research.
    I’d also be curious to know average hours of sleep for Gen Y vs Gen X, anyone?

    • That’s what I am curious to know, too. I have to think that Gen Y-ers are probably watching less TV than any other generation before them, mainly due to streaming content on their computers. That’s my “educated” guess lol.

  • I dont know if I agree. I see too many people glued to their crackberries texting, tweeting or chatting even if the tv is on. I think Nielsen would like to think more people are watching tv but whenever it comes to statistics, it makes you always wonder who the sample audience was.

    Then again, one of my all time fav shows is Spongebob, so I guess I am guilty..lol

  • Elfawin

    What about people who are using their laptop and iPhone for social media purposes while also watching TV? I think there is a considerable amount of overlap that is hard to account for these days.

  • The fact you’re missing is that there is a whole generation of people that are moving away from television altogether.  I cancelled cable 2 1/2 years ago and really wouldn’t go back.  I have a handful of channels now and probably watch maybe 5-10 hrs a week.  Nielson is a fundamentally broken measure of figuring out how many people are watching as well.

    And this metric fails to account for people using the computer while watching TV.  Just because the TV is on doesn’t mean that people aren’t multitasking.  I’d say nearly 90% of the time my wife watches TV she is also using the laptop to browse the web.

  • jim martin

    6hrs per month on facebook? does not sound quite right…

  • Sandro Lima

    in Brazil is different

  • I think we are on the cusp of convergence with TV and social networks. I installed a network switch to my home network at the weekend, so my TV and BluRay player could access the internet. Currently I mostly GET content, but I’ll put money that the next TV I buy has social buttons on the remote. We LOVE to share, and the TV is going to be the next big platform for social interaction.

  • Sheree Martin

    I rarely watch TV. Just turned it on this afternoon (to CSPAN) for the first time in nearly a month. I needed to iron and decided to check into CSPAN.

  • This is uncanny, just a few weeks back I got to thinking about this, and put it down in a totally different but similar way – http://bit.ly/NNyr4H

  • But where are people watching TV… I would like to think that there is a growing population watching via streaming sites. Moreover, people are still sitting with their laptops next to them, smartphones in hands and tablets near by. This is where offline and online integration should flourish.