Staunton, September 13 – More Russians in major cities now turn to Google, Yandex, VKontakte, YouTube and Mail.ru than watch television, but for the three-quarters of the population living elsewhere, far more people watch television than go online; and both groups, spend vastly more time watching Moscow TV than surfing.
Nonetheless, these new statistics gathered by the TNS survey company are intriguing not only because they suggest that the Internet as a whole is playing an ever greater role in the lives of Russians but that social networks and those based abroad are now playing a disproportionate one (vedomosti.ru/technology/articles/2016/09/13/656674-yandeks-telekanali-ohvatu).
Of those who turn to a website or television “not less than once a month,” Google has the largest audience with 88 percent of urban Russians saying they use it. The Russian search engine site Yandex is second with 87.2 percent, the social network V kontakte third, YouTube fourth, and Mail.ru fifth. Allof them garner more visitors than Moscow’s Russia I TV channel.
The situation is somewhat different for those who use the Internet every day. Of that group, V Kontakte is the most popular with a 58.7 percent share of the population, followed by Yandex, Google, Mail.ru and YouTube. First channel television again is far behind, with other channels lagging even further.
Because such surveys are relatively new, no one knows precisely when Internet sites began to attract more visitors than Moscow television does viewers. By spring 2012, Yandex had passed First Channel for the 12 to 54 years cohort. But since that time, TNS has changed its panel making comparisons difficult.
Advertisers are following the users: In the first half of 2016, they spent 37 percent of their ad budgets on the Internet, compared to 42 percent for television. The reason TV remains higher is that viewers watch for far longer periods than surfers visit websites, researchers have concluded.
“Vedomosti” stresses that the two forms of media are not antagonistic: many who surf also watch television, and many who watch television also surf. But because the Internet involves more interactivity and variety, its conquest of such a large audience, even for brief times, highlights the problems the Kremlin faces in ensuring that TV still defeats the refrigerator.