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Survey Finds East West Divide In Media Habits

Nielsen Survey Finds East West Divide In Media Habits

Wednesday 17 December 2008, Auckland New Zealand: The so-called digital divide between emerging and developed economies worldwide may not be that wide after all.

A new online survey conducted by The Nielsen Company shows that while Western countries show significant use of media hardware including DVD players and game consoles, it is the Asian markets who are leading the charge with the latest in high-tech next generation mobiles and handsets.

Of the Asia-Pacific countries surveyed, New Zealand leads the way for ownership and usage of television sets (98%) and personal computers (97%). Australia follows behind at a close second for both. Although the majority of the countries surveyed showed ownership of both, New Zealand and Australia demonstrate the most actual usage of their televisions and PCs over the past 6 months. By comparison, (80%) of Japanese own a television, yet only (14%) have used it in the past 6 months, the figures for PCs at similar levels.

The findings emerged from the entertainment portion of the biannual Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, which reached 26,000 online users in September. Rankings were computed by measuring a range of scores in response to similarly themed survey questions.

Executive Director, Nielsen Media, New Zealand, Stuart Jamieson says that many Asian consumers appear to prefer to forego landline communication, preferring instead the latest offerings in wireless technology. “The same leapfrogging is taking place with entertainment,” he said. “For example, consumers are circumventing the need for a relatively expensive gaming console to play subscription-based videogames online.”

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Almost three quarters (74%) of New Zealanders surveyed use non video-enabled or wap-enabled mobile phones. This compares to a global average of (51%) and Asia Pacific regional average of (38%). Just over a third of New Zealanders surveyed use video and wap-enabled phones (37%) compared to (46%) in Asia Pacific and (41%) globally.

According to Jamieson, factors such as the widespread use of public transport and superior broadband access in China and Singapore have contributed to the high media usage in these countries.

Western countries have higher rates of use when it comes to entertainment such as video games and DVD players. Ninety percent of New Zealand households surveyed have a DVD player at home, although Australia leads the way at (93%) compared to an Asia-Pacific average of just (61%).

In choosing a medium for listening to music, the CD player is still a popular choice for Kiwis. Ninety-five percent of households surveyed have a CD player either in the home, car, PC or portable device. This compares to only (21%) who have a portable handheld device that plays both music and video.

Furthermore, countries plagued by content piracy problems are also likely to perform strongly on results for the survey, which does not make a distinction between users engaging in legal or illegally obtained media.

Twenty-nine percent of New Zealanders have downloaded music or other audio tracks in the past month. This is below the Asia-Pacific average of (64%) but well in front of Japan who scored the lowest in this category at just (14%). The country showing the biggest group of internet music users is Canada with a total of (85%) of respondents downloading audio tracks in the month prior to being surveyed. Canada also leads the way as far as downloads of music videos with (57%) of respondents downloading in the past month. This compares to just (9%) of New Zealanders and an Asia-Pacific average of (42%).

For overall usage across a range of devices, the online population of the Philippines ranked first among the 52 countries surveyed. With poor landline access, the Philippines has demonstrated a significantly high mobile usage.

The elevated usage scores of emerging nations can be explained in several ways. Emerging economies that tend to have low Internet penetration are more likely in an online survey to skew toward heavy media users. In more developed countries where Internet access is near universal, the sample will be a more natural representation of the general population, with both casual and heavy media users.

Another likely factor skewing media usage in favor of emerging countries is the average age of their online population is more than 10 years younger than in the West.

United States scored poorly in the overall media consumption ranking, finishing 34th. Its best ranking came on the videogame ranking, where it finished 27th.

The top users in overall media consumption behind Philippines and Brazil was United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Russia.


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