Internet consumption in 2010 will average 14.2 hours per week, or over 2.5 days a month, compared to 11.5 hours a week, or 2 days a month, for TV, claims a report released today by Microsoft entitled 'Europe logs on: Internet trends of today and tomorrow'. It covers Italy, France, Spain, Germany, the UK, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Norway Turkey, Gibraltar, Cyprus and Greece.
The report highlights that while the internet will become the most popular media, this does not signify a decline in TV but simply reflects the changing ways people experience TV content.
It argues that TV is becoming a two-way connected experience delivered via broadband to multiple screens including TV, PC and mobile.
The research shows that for some 18-24 year olds the PC is often the only television screen while for others it can be a second or third screen.
To this generation, TV frequently means video delivered on demand, with one in seven 18-24 year olds now watching no live TV at all.
The report outlines that over the next five years the PC should move from being the completely dominant internet access device (today accounting for 95% of access) to representing just 50% of internet usage as other web enabled or connected devices grow in popularity, such as TV, mobile phones and games consoles.
Other findings include that almost 50% of Europeans now have an internet connection and people spent almost nine hours per week using the web in 2008, up 27% from 2004. This is more time than they spent reading print media, watching movies offline or playing video games.
However there is a clear North-South divide with those in Northern Europe having an internet penetration rate of 76% on average compared to 45% in Southern Europe.
Jeffrey Cole, centre for digital future director at USC Annenberg School, said: "Rather than shrinking, television will only grow in importance. TV no longer refers to the big screen in the home but to audio and visual content that will be watched everywhere.
"It will become our constant companion as it escapes from the home for the first time via the mobile phone and netbook PC."
John Mangelaars, vice president of Microsoft consumer and online, EMEA, said: "The three screens -- TV, mobile and PC will remain the most important media and technology in our lives.
"While today the experience is fragmented across multiple media devices and environments -- from the living room television to the bedroom PC to the portable music player and mobile phone -- in future, software from Microsoft and others will enable connected, integrated entertainment experiences."