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Americans watch even more TV, on phones and computers too

February 23, 2009 |  1:32 pm

If you've seen that Hulu commercial starring Alec Baldwin, you surely know that TV is a plot devised by aliens to turn our brains into mush so they can scoop them out and eat them. And online video and phones are making our brains even mushier, by giving us more places to watch TV. 

The human race seems to be falling for this devious scheme, and aliens must be readying their sporks and knives. According to a Nielsen report out today, the average American watches more than 151 hours of TV per month. That's an all-time high, up 3.6% from the 145 or so hours Americans reportedly watched in the same period last year.

Newfangled distribution methods are also adding to the total: an extra three hours on the Internet for people who watch online video, and four hours on cellphones for those who watch mobile video, according to the report.

It's not just the kids who are firing up their computers to check out shows. Adults ages 18-24 spend five hours watching video online, while 25- to 34-year-olds spend just over four hours. Those ages 35-44 and 45-54 spend 3:20 and 2:34, respectively.

And on the Web, work time is still prime time. About 65% of online video viewers ...

... streamed content between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. (Perhaps with the threat of layoffs looming everywhere, sucking up corporate bandwidth is their way of paying back employers).

Internet usage overall grew 3.6% from the same time a year ago, to 27 hours a month, although adults ages 35-44 spend the most time every month using the Internet: 38 hours and 40 minutes. That time surely is spent doing very important things such as researching home prices and reading about how other people's lives stink.

The amount of time spent watching traditional TV increases with age. Teenagers (12-17) spend only 103 hours watching TV a month, whereas senior citizens (65 and older) spend 207 hours. That's about seven hours a day -- enough for two baseball games.

One of the biggest surprises in the report: Mobile video grew 9% from the previous quarter. Teens watch about 6 1/2 hours of video on a mobile phone per month, as opposed to the nearly three hours that adults ages 18-24 watch. Which makes you wonder -- who are all these teens with swanky enough phones to watch six hours of video a month? And if they're watching mobile video and not traditional TV, will their brains still turn to mush that might appeal to a hungry alien?

-- Alana Semuels

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