What you need to know

Technological innovations have changed how consumers spend their free time, whether at home or on the go. This report focuses on how technological advances in consumer electronics, entertainment content, and communications are changing the media engagement landscape. Forward-looking analysis of trends, particularly based on data by age, gender and household income, show how media usage will affect business models and marketing efforts in upcoming years. To this effect, the following questions are addressed:

  • How has increased interest in and reliance on the internet affected news and information gathering, leisure activities, and modes of communication?

  • How has competition for consumer leisure time shifted in recent years?

  • How is media usage affected by differences in age, gender, income and race/Hispanic origin?

  • How are hardware and software developments shaping communication, video, reading, and audio usage?

  • How are smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices influenced by media usage?

  • What are the implications of an increasingly portable lifestyle?

  • How can shifting usage of technology be used in marketing to hard-to-reach demographics?


This report builds on the Mintel’s Techtrak, U.S.—February 2009, and explores media usage across the following arenas: web activity, PC application activity, video watched on television screens, video watched on PC screens, video watched on mobile screens, video gaming, reading/browsing, audio, and communication. The report covers only adult interaction with media, and does not explore how children or teens engage.

A primary focus of the report is the changing nature of online behavior, and the amount of time spent with each type of media:

  • Video on television screen: broadcast/pay TV at scheduled time, DVR, shiny disc, internet stream or internet set-top box, PPV and VOD.

  • Video on a PC or portable: television shows, movies and short video viewed on a PC, portable DVD players, and cell phones.

  • Audio: traditional, satellite, and internet radio, MP3 playback, and shiny disc playback.

  • Reading/browsing: books, newspaper, and magazine reading, website browsing on a PC or a phone, e-book reading.

  • Communication media: voice calls via cell and landline, text messaging, IM (text, audio, and video), social media, and blogging/commenting on blogs.

  • Gaming: casual, online and social network gaming, console gaming, and portable gaming.

Data sources

Consumer survey data

For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned exclusive consumer research through Toluna USA to explore consumer attitudes and behaviors towards video, audio, gaming, communication, and reading. Mintel was responsible for the survey design, data analysis and reporting. Fieldwork was conducted in June 2010, among a sample of 2,000 adults aged 18+ with access to the internet.

Mintel selects survey respondents so that they are proportionally balanced to the entire U.S. adult population based on the key demographics of gender, age, household income, and region. Mintel also slightly oversamples, relative to the population, respondents that are Hispanic or black to ensure an adequate representation of these groups in our survey results. Please note that our surveys are conducted online and in English only. Hispanics who are not online and/or do not speak English are not included in our survey results.

Mintel has also analyzed data from Experian Consumer Research, using the Simmons National Consumer Survey (NCS) and the Simmons National Hispanic Consumer Survey (NHCS). The NCS/NHCS was carried out during April 2009-December 2009 and the results are based on the sample of 11,459 adults aged 18+, with results weighted to represent the U.S. adult population.

While race and Hispanic origin are separate demographic characteristics, Mintel often compares them to each other. Please note that the responses for race (white, black, Asian, Native American, or other race) will overlap those that also are Hispanic, because Hispanics can be of any race.


There follows a list of abbreviations used in this report:

3D Three-Dimensional
CD Compact Disc
Apps Applications
DVD Digital Versatile Disc
DVR Digital Video Recorder
FCC Federal Communications Commission
HD High Definition
HH Household
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The following terms are also used in the report:

Smartphones Mobile phone offering advanced capabilities, often with PC-like functionality.
Web/world wide web Refers to the millions of websites publicly accessible, as opposed to app-based content such as, for example, internet radio stations accessible through the iTunes application.
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