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American TV Watchers Spend Over a Year of Their Life Channel Surfing

As options of shows and ways to watch them increase, so does the time it takes to find something to watch

(espensorvik via Flickr)
smithsonian.com

Even in a media landscape of abundance, there are few complaints that are more universal than, “there’s nothing to watch.” Now, a new study suggests that the average person will spend more than a year of their life channel surfing while hunting for a show to put on the tube, reports Polygon’s Julia Alexander.

A new report by the Ericsson Consumer Lab on the habits of American television viewers found that while most people spend a little more than two hours a day watching TV, a good chunk of that time is actually used to flip through channels. According to their findings, about 44 percent of Americans ages 16 to 69 spend an average of 23 minutes over the course of their day trying to pick something to watch. Extrapolating that number out over the roughly 80-year lifespan of the average American makes it 474 days, or 1.3 years, Ashley Rodriguez reports for Quartz.

This number is likely a bit inflated since babies aren't doing a lot of channel surfing. But even starting the count at age 16, channel surfing will total roughly one year of an average American TV-watcher's life, writes Rodriguez. And that number just includes TV watchers—people who use streaming services like Netflix or Hulu report spending even more time scrolling through their queues. Even so, streaming service watchers report greater satisfaction with their viewing choices than their fellows who have yet to cut their cable.

To put things in perspective, as Rhett Jones reports for Gizmodo, the average American spends about 81 days brushing their teeth, around 112 days sitting in traffic and a whopping 270 days pooping. Taken together, these activities come within spitting distance of the time spent scanning TV channels—but it doesn’t quite beat it.

It’s not terribly surprising, considering the wide range of shows and even more ways to watch them, writes Alexander. Still, it’s something to think about the next time you’re skimming your Netflix lineup.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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