Here's a trick question: Does web usage increase or decrease television viewership? You would probably assume that viewership declines. You would be wrong. Actually viewership is about the same regardless of whether one surfs.
Nielsen Media Research has been following the media patterns of 3,000 people in more than 1,000 homes measuring the interaction between TV and the Internet. They found that despite increased internet usage, television usage has not suffered. Read the press release here.
“Americans keep finding more time to spend with the three screens,” said Susan Whiting, vice chairperson for The Nielsen Company. “TV use is at an all-time high, yet people are also using the Internet more often – 31% of which is happening simultaneously.”
So people watch television and surf the net at the same time, and surfing doesn't lead to less television viewership. It begs the question, what about radio? New Media pundits assert without convincing evidence that new media is hurting radio listenership. But what evidence do we really have?
We have asserted that there is no convincing independent evidence that radio listenership is declining. Listenership as measured by Arbitron is declining, but it has been declining for decades--long before new media could be the cause. Methodological changes by Arbitron are a more likely explanation of reported declines. Which brings us back to our original question: What about radio? Since internet use doesn't hurt TV viewership, why should we assume that the internet hurts radio listenership?
Perhaps with Nielsen's entry into radio measurement, they will be able to conduct research on the relationship between internet and radio usage. Then we'll finally get to the truth.