Monday, October 12, 2009

Today in Depressing Statistics

I refrained from linking to this chart when it ran in The Economist a few weeks ago because it's still hard for me to believe. It's also sort of horrifying. I just can't imagine anyone watching eight hours of television a day. How is that possible? I'm not even sure how Canadians can find 3-4 hours of programming per day that is not crap. I mean, Hockey Night in Canada is just one night a week!

It's possibly bunk. I'm wondering if, maybe, the hours aren't measured by hours that the television is on, but nobody's watching it. The scary thing with the US supposedly averaging eight hours a day is that I actually used to have a roommate who must have watched that much, if not more. She had it on whenever she was at home and awake. My grandfather used to do the same thing. So, it is possible. But, I think maybe some people are ignoring the set and just like to have it turned on.

But that could also well be wishful thinking from yours truly.

11 comments:

Brian Dunbar said...

I'll have to dig up the story but ...

I suspect bunk and mis-matched data.

gregvw said...

I don't see how the average person would have time to pay attention to television 8 hours a day. It must just be on while people are going about their business. That in itself does not suggest particularly pleasant things either.

Rufus said...

Yeah, I'm thinking it was based on time that the set was on, not that it was always being watched. And, actually, my roomate used to surf the net while watching the television set, basically all day long. And she wondered why she flunked out of college!

Brian Dunbar said...

It must just be on while people are going about their business. That in itself does not suggest particularly pleasant things either.

DirecTV provides a nice assortment of audio-only music channels. My TV comes with a nice set of speakers.

Many a Saturday I've got the set on, tuned to 'music' for pretty much the entire day.

Brian Dunbar said...

I'll have to dig up the story but ...

Friggin Economist.

Store here, but no links. Thanks Economist! http://www.economist.com/daily/chartgallery/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14252309

Data from a PDF published by OECD at the 'Non-subscribers can browse free on line' link here - http://www.oecd.org/document/44/0,3343,en_2649_34225_43435308_1_1_1_1,00.html#HTO

Page 190, Figure 6.2

But the PDF itself is .. a summary. A detailed summary. Which as far as I can tell doesn't explain where the data comes from, only that it is 'reported'.

Data for American television viewing habits would come from A.C. Nielsen - they'll give you all the data you can buy. The data is accurate: people would not pay for it if it wasn't.

Who reports on that for the UK, Greece, France, etc? Do they report everything? Is there a bias to lower the viewing averages? I note that you must pay for a license to watch television in some countries - this would strongly incentivize me to buy a satellite dish or watch more movies on Netflix, or use Hulu. Which will fly right under the bean counters unless they account for it.

rufus said...

Does who have a bias? The people reporting? Or are you asking if the societies have an anti-television bias?

In the case of France, it's pretty clear what the difference is- people like to meet up for drinks and food after work, during their two-hour lunches, on the weekends... it's not uncommon, even in more rural areas, to see people at 11:00 at night, in the cafe, eating their dinner.

It's hard to say with Canada. Canadians aren't so fond of Canadian programming, but most of what you get up here is American shows- because it's cheaper to buy them than produce local shows. Admittedly, I don't know any Canadians who watch a lot of television, so it might be cultural. Also, there's the stereotype here that Americans watch a lot of television and Canadians don't like to act too "American".

I can also say anecdotally that my American relatives watch a hell of a lot more television than my friends and family in other countries. But I don't know that the disparity should be so high.

Brian Dunbar said...

Does who have a bias? The people reporting? Or are you asking if the societies have an anti-television bias?

The reporting organizations. I wasn't thinking so much of a 'anti-TV' bias as the technical meaning of the word: stuff that can skew results.

It's hard to know without diving into the source data.

rufus said...

I'll see if we can just email them and ask about the source data. It could be interesting. Honestly, while I'm a bit skeptical, really I'm more just curious about the subject. I'm not setting out to do the blogosphere thing of desperately trying to disprove any information that doesn't fitmy own biases.

As for Canada, Claire suggested that the cable packages here might just have less channels. Another thing I'd suggest for Canada is that, when the weather is as shitty and depressing as it is now and for the next five months, there's actually more incentive to go out and do things with friends. Staying home just makes you feel miserable.

Brian Dunbar said...

incentive to go out and do things with friends. Staying home just makes you feel miserable.

Make _you_ miserable, perhaps. My idea of a fun night out is staying home with a stack of books, next to a fire with the dogs in my lap.

really I'm more just curious about the subject

Oh, sure. When I see statistics tossed around without a source I get an itch behind my eyes and I want to know more about it.

It's the curse of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi: Go Run And Find Out.

alarob said...

Another question is whether TVs in public spaces (bars, restaurants, waiting rooms) are factored in to the stats: (Total number of TVs) x (Avg. number of hours on per day) / (Population).

Anyway, seeing Switzerland at the bottom of the ranking reminded me of one half-noticed reason it was so pleasant to work there: The idiot box was seldom around, and even more seldom turned on.

Rufus said...

Yeah, I don't know if I've ever seen one in a Swiss movie before.

I guess Brian you get similar weather to ours. It's probably because I'm home reading and writing all day, but in the evenings all I want to do is go for long walks or visit friends. For some reason, the coldness does not mitigate against that desire.