Books Are More Popular Than Movies, and Television Is More Popular Than Jesus

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12/16/2009 1:32 PM |



According to Deloitte’s fourth annual State of the Media Democracy report, due out today, 34% of Americans cite TV as their favorite medium, up from 27% last year. Second through fourth, respectively, were Internet, music and books…

Movies were fifth (because books aren’t fighting television for the same audience as movies, maybe?). The visual arts were told to “suck it.”

An initial response is that “medium” seems odd. Is “music” a medium? Radio is a medium; so is online streaming for audio (and for movies and television shows). I guess this survey was meant to poll people about their preferences of art forms and original content? (This is not what “medium” means.)

But let’s not quibble over debased terminology. Instead, let’s go back to the most pertinent fact in this survey: Americans watch 17.8 hours of television a week.

That’s on average. So for every hour less than that, that you watch, someone out there watches one more.

This is up two hours from last year—which, if you’re the kind of person who watches more 16 hours of television a week or more, how do you suddenly have two additional hours of leisure time you’re not already spending watching television? How can Americans watch more television than they already do? We’re like the living, coagulating version of Zeno’s Paradox, forever approaching infinite television viewership. (An alternate explanation is that unemployment is up, opening up many new hours to potentially be filled with self-piting inertia.)

One Comment

  • If you think 17.8 is scary, Nielsen’s third quarter report finds that “As of 3Q09 the average American spends 31 hours, 19 minutes each week tuned into television.” Which works out to 4 1/2 hours a day. Which makes sense, if you figure an average American turns on the TV at 8 for prime time and goes to bed after Leno, er, Conan. (Which is what I always assume anyway.) And then for every hour less that you or I or our social-drinking readers watch is one hour more that somebody watches Oprah, the Today Show, Brian Williams, etc. Still, that’s a lot of TV. And a lot of commercials. And a scary statistic!