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Consumers Continue to Spend More Time Online
How does the increasing use of the Internet affect the world we live in? Britain is spending more and more time online. Large audiences spend as much as 30 hours a week on the Internet, according to a report by uSwitch.com.
The report showed that on average we spend 2 hours on the Internet for work and 3 hours for leisure every day with around 3 hours a day at the weekend browsing for entertainment. Online use is increasing in the younger age groups with 18 – 24 year olds spending 45 hours a week online.
The way we access the Internet is also changing. The growth of the mobile Internet, due to more sophisticated 3G mobile phones, is increasing the amount of time spent online. Users have further options to access the web from handheld devices wherever they are.
Faster connection speeds and increased broadband provision across Britain mean that home broadband usage is also continuing to rise. Ofcom’s research into broadband speeds in Britain found that average broadband speeds in the UK in April 2009 were 4.1Mbit per second and that 70% of broadband users received average speeds of more than 2Mbit per second. The increased connection speed allows for faster loading times and the ability to stream better quality content such as HD videos.
The effect on Advertising Expenditure
The increasing time spent online is having an impact on where advertisers spend their marketing budgets. Online advertising spend has now taken over television. More and more well-known brand advertisers are realizing the potential of online as a way to reach mass audiences.
Big brands like Kellogg’s are waking up to the potential online audiences. Kellogg’s spent £58 million on TV advertising between August 2008 and July 2009 and just over £300k was spent online. But this is about to change with the appointment of dedicated digital posts to formulate a strategy for 2010. This shows that major advertisers are now aware of the benefits that online communication with customers can bring to a brand.
Unsurprisingly, the investment in Internet advertising by Kellogg’s appears late, as FMCG brands have typically struggled to come to terms with the digital landscape. This is because they have failed to understand how it can fit into their overall marketing strategy. But the adoption of the majority of the UK moving online means that advertisers have to be where the audience is.
Convergence of Television and Online
More and more people in the UK are watching TV online. Catch-up TV became popular in 2008, thanks to BBC iPlayer and 4OD. The figures from Ofcom’s Annual Report on the Communications Market show that 23% of households claim to watch programs online. This increases to 33% among 15-24 year olds.
There are two ways to watch TV online by streaming or downloading. If you’re streaming you’re watching directly from the broadcaster, like traditional TV. Programs can often be paused and rewound (unless they are “live”), but they are not saved on your computer. Downloaded programs are saved on your computer’s hard drive, and can be watched whenever you want, although many have digital rights management (DRM) protection that locks them after a certain period of time which prevents you from watching them again.
Is TV consumption likely to move online only? This may happen in the future if more programs are broadcast online only such as the one in case of England’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine which was broadcast, for the first time in early October 2009, on -line without any coverage on television. The cost to watch the match started at £4.99 before 8th October rising to £11.99 up to the day of the match.
The general feedback from users was that this was too expensive for one game and that it alienated pub spectators and fans with slow internet connections. But no doubt, there will be more events in the future that are not broadcast on television and are only shown via the Internet.
The growth of social networking
Social networking is huge in the UK with Facebook being the clear market leader accounting for 1 in every 7 pages in the UK. Facebook is the second most visited site in the UK after Google but is a clear leader in terms of pages viewed due to how sticky the site is with more page views than Google, eBay UK and YouTube together.
Facebook’s success is astounding with an 86% increase in visits in the last 12 months. Despite Twitter’s recent loss of press coverage, it remains the most popular social network accounting for almost half of all social networking activity that takes place online, with no signs of growth in slow down Social networking is not just for a young audience, the fastest growth was seen among those aged 35-54, during Q1 this year.
Children and their time online
Most children are completely comfortable using the Internet without knowing a world without it. A report by the London School of Economics revealed the following use of 9-19 year olds online. The children are very comfortable using the Internet with 40% using the Internet every day. Although the time spent online tends to be shorter than with adults, 19% spend up to 10% with 48% spending between 10 minutes and an hour. The activities they perform on the Internet according to popularity are:
- Getting information about things other than schoolwork (94%)
- Help with school work (90%)
- Sending and receiving emails (72%)
- Play online games (70%)
- Send and receive instant messages (55%)
- Download music (45%)
- Look for information about careers and further education (44%)
- Search for information and shop online (40%)
- Read the news (26%)
- Chat rooms (21%)
I have no doubt that over time the use of the Internet will continue to grow. Our children are using it from a young age, creating a generation of people who are comfortable performing a variety of online tasks from entertainment to shopping. The continued improvement of Internet access lowers the barriers to entry, and the growing technologies that use the Internet to make certain tasks easier and faster will all help to continue the Internet’s ever-increasing expansion.
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