The 19th edition of "The Infinite Dial" -- a major study of the electronic media habits of Americans -- was released last week, providing some interesting new details on our electronic lives. The study was conducted by two major media research companies: Arbitron, the company that conducts radio ratings in the U.S., and Edison Research, a company that conducts media research and is the exclusive provider of election exit polls for the 6 largest TV networks.
Digging beyond the obvious growth in various technologies and platforms, the study reinforced that much of traditional media (except for newspapers) was holding its own in the face of ongoing disruptions. So here's the latest update on what we're liking, LOLing about and linking to.
Photo Credit: SqueegyX
Measuring the Passion
Some fascinating details came out in the section where Arbitron and Edison measured respondents' passion for various technologies. Passion is defined as when a respondent said he/she "loved" a particular technology. The passion evaluations were split into two parts: passion scores and passionate users.
Passion scores are simply the % of owners/users of a particular technology said that they "love it;" it didn't matter how many people used the technology. Apple took the top 2 spots and 3 of the top 5:
3. Android smartphone
5. (tie) Broadband Internet and iPods
Photo Credit: Chi Nguyen
At the bottom of the list were audio podcasts, then a 3-way tie for last place between video podcasts, MySpace and LinkedIn.
The "Passionate Users" category factored in the reach of each technology. Therefore, traditional media with tremendous reach, i.e. TV (98% usage) and AM/FM radio (93%), start out with a big head start and do very well in this measure. The most impressive showing was the DVR, ranking 5th, despite only 36% of the population having it:
1. Broadband internet (70% usage)
2. Cell phones, all types (84%)
3. Television (98%)
4. AM/FM radio (93%)
5. DVR (36%)
Rdio App, Photo Credit: Joshua Kaufman
MySpace finished again near the bottom of this list in a 4-way tie with Twitter, Location-based services and LinkedIn.
Perhaps the most surprising thing of all about a media and technology study in 2011 was that the word "Netflix" does not show up once in the full 83-slide presentation (if you want to check out the full study download it here).
The real takeaway from this survey is that it's clear that even as consumers enjoy better and faster access to more and more options, traditional media usage still dominates in many sectors. The fascination with new hardware may be making some consumers change their preferred sources for audio and visual stimulation, but for the majority of mainstream Americans, old habits die hard.
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