China Time Spent with Media 2019

For the First Time, Adults Will Spend Half of Their Daily Media Time Online

Time Spent with Media 2019

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Forecasts for nine markets: US, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Latin America, South Korea, UK; as well as mobile and social media time spent in the US

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Executive Summary

Adults in China spend the majority of their media time with digital devices—on which their main activity is going online. This year, time spent on the internet will account for half of total time spent with all media for the first time.

How much time will adults in China spend with traditional media vs. digital?

In 2019, adults (ages 18+) in China will spend 2 hours, 44 minutes with traditional media, or 41.2% of time spent with media. That’s compared with 3 hours, 54 minutes spent with digital, or 58.8% of time spent with media—including internet activities on any device and non-internet activities on mobile devices.

What are the key drivers of increased internet time spent?

Government efforts to develop rural internet infrastructure and more mobile internet usage by older consumers have led to an uptick in the amount of time adults in China spend online.

How much time will adults in China spend with traditional TV vs. digital video?

Adults in China still spend more time with traditional TV. But digital video’s share of consumers’ combined TV and video viewing time has risen significantly, from 23.2% in 2017 to 33.0% in 2019. This figure is projected to rise to 39.3% by 2021.

Is adult time spent with media and media ad spending aligned?

Not exactly. TV accounts for more of adult time spent with media but ends up with a smaller share of ad spending, due to hurdles of transacting with state media. Digital media, with its comparative ease of buying, ends up with a larger share of ad spending.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our latest forecast for time spent with media in China, including breakouts by traditional and digital media. It also examines the key media consumption behaviors in the country.

KEY STAT: In 2019, adults in China will spend 6 hours and 39 minutes with media daily. Digital will account for 3 hours and 54 minutes of that time.

Behind the Numbers

Our methodology for our China time spent with media forecast is based on an analysis of 596 metrics from 50 sources. This analysis involves the collection of third-party data—primarily survey data—from adult respondents, asking them about their media use habits. Data is also sourced from online and mobile activity tracking services, government data and interviews with industry experts.

Using a bottom-up analysis, we assess and analyze reported time spent with each device and media activity across various sources. And where definitions differ, the data is normalized and interpreted in terms of our definition (i.e., the population in China ages 18 and older). The data is then aggregated with the time contributions from each device and media type to arrive at an estimate for average time spent with media per day.

In order to arrive at forecasts for growth rates by media and by device, this analysis is followed by extensive assessments of historical and expected future growth patterns with regard to device adoption, multiple and overlapping device usage, population and demographic factors, and competitors to existing devices and activities.

An important note on how we account for multitasking in our estimates of time spent with media: If someone spends an hour watching TV (for example) and uses a smartphone to surf the web during the same hour, we count this as an hour of usage for each medium, and hence as 2 hours of total media time.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. An Overview of Our Main Time Spent Numbers
  3. Trends in Focus: TV vs. Video
  4. Trends in Focus: Mobile vs. Desktop
  5. Trends in Focus: Time Spent with Smart Speakers
  1. Trends in Focus: Time Spent on Social Media
  2. Trends in Focus: Time Spent on Digital Gaming
  3. Trends in Focus: Time Spent on Digital Music Streaming
  4. Trends in Focus: Time Spent on Digital News Apps
  5. Ad Spending and Time Spent Both Lean Heavily on Digital
  1. Key Takeaways
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report


Man-Chung Cheung


Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Cindy Liu
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Shelleen Shum
Director, Forecasting