Cultural and lifestyle influences on tv viewing


Out-of-home viewing has been documented in a number of studies. Much of this research has been conducted in the U.S., most recently in 1994. That study confirmed that there is a considerable amount of viewing in locations which are not measured by Nielsen's meter panel, especially by young people, students, business travelers, and working women. While such research is driven primarily by commercial interests, a comparison between out-of-home data from different countries reveals that it is also a source of valuable information about the impact of culture and lifestyle on the use of television. This paper compares the findings from the American studies with those from the first study of out-of-home TV usage in Germany. The German study was conducted because, as in the U.S., the German meter panel does not measure viewing outside of private homes and it excludes visitor viewing. The German study, therefore, covers all viewing outside of one's own home, that is, out-of-home viewing and visitor viewing. The results show a number of similarities with the U.S. data, but also suggest distinct differences which point to cultural and lifestyle differences between the two countries. The results of this analysis indicate that more research on this topic and international comparisons of the findings are likely to produce interesting and valuable information not only for advertisers, but also for TV programmers and even for sociologists. Such data not only show us the TRUE amount of total television usage, they also show us the way in which different viewer groups use television, and they help us understand how television fits into viewers' lives.

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