A new survey by the Boston Consulting group found that the average U.S. consumer is getting more value out of online media than offline media.
The report revealed that media-users receive a "consumer surplus" (the "value consumers place on a media-related activity or product over and above what they pay for it") of about $970 per year from online media, compared with approximately $900 for offline media. The survey examined seven categories, including books, newspapers, and user-generated content from social networks.
The largest corner of that surplus, about one-third of the online total, came from social networks accessed through platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Offline, books generate the highest surplus.
“The fact that the consumer surplus is already higher for online media is somewhat extraordinary, given that online revenues represent less than 15 percent of the total media industry pie,” said John Rose, a BCG senior partner and coauthor of the report, in a press release.
The average consumer today owns 2.9 devices with mobile access--almost double the number three years ago. And when consumers pick up that second device, the number of hours spent consuming online media jumps 50 percent.
Once online, 68 percent of consumers surveyed say they have access to higher-quality online content than they did three years ago. That quality, say 62 percent, is a major reason to go online.
“Shrewd media companies that build effective digital capabilities will enjoy opportunities to extract some of this growing consumer surplus for themselves,” said Neal Zuckerman, a BCG partner and coauthor of the report, in a BCG press release.
Digging through the massive amount of information online and filtering out accurate content can be a mammoth task for media consumers, but 77 percent of those surveyed said they feel this process is their responsibility. And by a margin of five to one, U.S. consumers are excited about the Internet’s potential rewards more than they are worried about potential risks.
These consumption patterns, the survey found, are extraordinarily consistent across age, gender, and region, but how people are spending their time online varies along demographic lines. Men and women consume the same amount of online media, 12 hours per week, but men listen to music more, while women tend toward online interaction through user-generated content and games. Also, the survey found, men consume slightly more offline media (books, print magazines) than women.