Clash of the Titans: Does Internet Use Reduce Television Viewing?

Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Internet and Media and Content

Article Snapshot


Stan Liebowitz and Alejandro Zentner


Working Paper, July 2009


This paper examines the extent to which the Internet has altered traditional leisure activities such as TV viewing.

Policy Relevance

There is no great need to protect the television market from competition from the Internet.

Main Points

  • Looking at about 100 American cities over the interval 1995 to 2003, we find a 10% overall decline in television viewing associated with the Internet penetration that occurred. This result is statistically significant.

  • When the population of viewers in cities is segmented by age group we find these results to hold most strongly for the youngest age group but become weaker for our groups of older individuals and approach zero impact for the oldest group of individuals (over 55 years of age).
    • Results are not consistent with a view that the Internet’s substitution entertainment capabilities are so great that it would be expected to have a massive impact on television viewing.
    • The effect of the Internet on television viewing varies monotonically with the age, reducing it for the youngest American but having no impact on the viewing of the oldest Americans.
    • Even for young individuals, our results suggest that the size of the displacement effect appears to be quite moderate.

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