Man under newspapers

The continuing trend of content consumption shifting from paper to screen looks set to accelerate. The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey, a survey of the top fifth of U.S. households with household income over $100K, found that the popularity of the iPad is expected to continue to grow, with 1.4m affluent consumers planning on purchasing a tablet, 1.7m planning to buy an e-reader and 4.5m planning to buy a smartphone.

The survey polls a group considered to be the driving force behind the U.S. economy.  These households accounts for approximately 60% of household income and about 70% of all net worth.  With 98% of them online (compared to a national average of 70%) they also own a lot of screen-based devices – of the 44m affluent heads of household, 14.5m own smartphones, 2m own e-readers and nearly 1m own tablets.

There were a couple of other trends that are interesting / worrying.

For the media industry, consumption of business and financial news dropped across all types of access (print, telelvision and the web).  The number of affluent consumers who watched business, financial and economic news on television and online video dropped 28 per cent from 2009, while personal finance and investing programs fell 23 per cent (Financial Times, paywalled). Business and financial news in print declined 20 per cent, and business and investing websites drew 10 per cent fewer viewers. People’s readership of print media also fell 16 per cent over 2009, while Internet usage increased by 12 per cent.

This means that people are generally less well-informed about national and international news, which really can’t be good for society, nor is it good for the print news industry – although an ad campaign by the magazine industry suggests a fightback. My colleague Liz blogged about it earlier in the year.

More worrying though is the cumulative amount of time this well-educated, busy and intelligent group are spending in front of a screen each week. On average, they spend just over 25 hours a week on the Internet and nearly 18 hours a week in front of the TV. So it’s not that screen time is staying the same and people are mixing it up more, it’s that people are just adding more and more screen time to their lives.

So much for ‘social’ media and interaction!