"If You Had To Give Up Two of [Internet, TV, and Radio], Which Two Would It Be?"

So asked a Zogby poll conducted late last months. Here's how the numbers broke down by age.


% who included Internet

% who included TV

% who included radio

Approximate margin of error (95% confidence interval)





















The 18-24 numbers seem especially striking, both as to their unwillingness to give up the Internet and as to their willingness to give up TV. Query how honest the answers are -- maybe some people just like to think of themselves as preferring the Internet, or don't like to think of themselves as being hooked on TV -- but if they are honest, they seem like a pretty big deal.

And, no, I'm not sure why the numbers don't quite add up to 200%, especially since the none / refused to state percentages were very low; I expect that there were some people who gave only one answer rather than two, but weren't recorded as none or refused to state.

I wonder if giving up TV or giving up radio includes giving up watching TV shows online or listening to radio stations online?
2.12.2007 4:55pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
If you give up TV and radio, but keep Internet, do you get to keep streaming content or video captures as received over the Internet?
2.12.2007 4:56pm
Le Messurier (mail):
I was never a whiz a statistics, but as I remember, a margin of error over 4% meant you should pretty much toss the results as the confidence level went way down the larger the margin. Anyone out there willing to add their greater knowledge to this?
2.12.2007 4:57pm
The Red Menace (mail):
I'm in the second group, but my jones for the net is more like the younger group. As an example, my laptop crashed about ten days ago- just about every day since I have returned to my office, after hours, just to "keep up."

The TV, you can have it (until college footbal season.)
2.12.2007 4:57pm
liberty (mail) (www):
I'm not surprised by the 18-24. I am only surprised that any of them wanted to keep radio. I guess there are still popular youth radio playing the latest rap or pop or whatever, but can't you get that all on MTV or whatever? And you can blast CDs and mp3s (and streaming internet "radio") out of your H2 hummer so why do you need radio?

What suprises me more is the percent of 25-34 who would give up the internet and the much lower percent who would give up TV. I understand wanting to keep TV -- without TiVo I would never see any film -- but how could they choose radio over internet? Is it all that NPR? Or are these country folk who love their country stations and their broadcast tv and just haven't found the internet that important or interesting yet?

Just kinda shows how fringe we all really are, i guess.
2.12.2007 5:00pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
I get everything off the internet, even traditional television and radio content. If television and radio went off the air I probably wouldnt notice until someone told me.
2.12.2007 5:05pm
Oh Wel (mail):
Is this a trial balloon question being floated by the new congress, by the Barack/Hillary ticket or by the Committee to Ensure Fairness in all Matters Social and Political?
2.12.2007 5:06pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Le Messurier,

Every statistical prediction actually has both attributes: a margin of error and a confidence interval. When you hear "this poll has 5 percent margin of error" they're just leaving out the confidence interval.

If you see a statement that says "this poll is within an X percent margin of error with a Y confidence interval," the data really says that there is a Y% chance that the event in the actual population will be within X% of the event's incidence in the sample population.

So, in terms of a rule of thumb, if you have a 6% margin of error with 98% confidence, you might not want to "throw it out" as much as if you have a 6% margin of error with 50% confidence, which tells you information that is virtually meaningless.
2.12.2007 5:07pm
New World Dan (www):
Somewhat interesting that radio was very consistent across the age groups. Personally, I could get along with very little internet access (I rarely go online at home), but professionally, as an IT guy, I can't do my job without internet access.

Overall, I don't find the results that odd, except I would have expected radio to be a bit higher. I only listen to the radio in the car and only watch a couple of hours of TV a week. I really don't know anyone that makes a specific effort to listen to the radio outside of their car, though some seem to leave it on continuously in the background at work.
2.12.2007 5:23pm
theobromophile (www):
For a lot of people, the radio (while in the car) is the best way to get traffic reports. Online reports are incomplete and not nearly as accessible when needed.

The willingness to give up TV probably has a lot to do with streaming video, TV shows online, Netflix, and, of course, episodes of a favourite show on DVD. (The young set probably also interpreted "TV" to mean "normal programming" but allowing for internet access of the same and use of a DVD player.)
2.12.2007 5:29pm
Isn't the standard confidence interval 95% (like statistical significance)? If so isn't that what is generally assumed if a confidence interval isn't stated (Zogby is a well known polling company, I assume they are using industry standards)?
2.12.2007 5:30pm
The margin of error is just half the confidence interval. If your estimate is 60% with a margin of error of 5%, then your confidence interval is from 55% to 65%. Both confidence intervals and margins of error are based on a confidence level--usually, as in this case-- 95% for polls. This more or less means that given the information from the poll, there is a 95% chance that the actual population proportion falls within a margin of error of the estimate. In this case the margins of error are "approximate" because they'd actually be different for each of the three proportions in each cohort.
2.12.2007 5:35pm
Kovarsky (mail):

Sure, if there's an industry standard assumption that all margins of error state values with a 95% interval, then I don't think the omission is a big deal. My experience is with cookie data, not polling data, so I don't know what the polling standards are.
2.12.2007 5:45pm
elChato (mail):
So the younger you are, the more Internet-dependent; and I'd wager the more educated you are, the more you would prefer Internet to the other two as well.

I am surprised at the dropoff in Internet preference among those 25-34.
2.12.2007 5:47pm
The 18-24 numbers make perfect sense. "Kids" that age use the internet to get TV, and they probably assumed the survey did not mean they couldn't get TV or movie content online. Between youtube, iTunes, and other video-downloading sites, you can find hours of TV and video content online , including the network shows you'd think that age group would watch. My brother, a recent film-school grad, spends HOURS on end on his computer, including watching TV, and rarely just in front of the TV.

What's interesting to me is the jump from 86.5 to 42.5 for TV with the 25-34 group (my group). We're the ones who were literally raised on TV - from Sesame Street to MTV to ESPN. We like the internet, but we'd be lost without the glow from the corner of room every hour of the day. We enjoy our passive viewing.
2.12.2007 5:53pm
With the Internet you can get TV shows, movies and radio. So no real choice here.
2.12.2007 6:03pm
Hunter McDaniel (mail):
Surveys like this are perfect for making me feel young at heart. It's almost like the last time (> 25 years ago) I got carded.
2.12.2007 6:15pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
"I guess there are still popular youth radio playing the latest rap or pop or whatever, but can't you get that all on MTV or whatever?"

You seem to be under the misapprehension that MTV still plays music videos....
2.12.2007 6:20pm
deepfix (mail):
at 31, a college dropout, and a retail employee:

radio has left my life already. i don't own a car. i listen to music on my ipod when on the bus.
television is great. i don't watch a lot of "network" television but do watch lots of DVDs.
but the internet. i was computerless and felt it for the last two years. with my new computer, i feel more involved. once i can actually watch television on my computer (not some archived things like the networks are doing now but real honest to god real time television)it'll be all internet for me.

i don't know where i fit in this but wanted to add my two cents since i never get polled.
2.12.2007 6:22pm
Nate F (www):
I am 22, and I can honestly say I have pretty much a full out internet addiction. It's probably borderline unhealthy. And I am not some pasty nerd or anything.
2.12.2007 6:29pm
Who in their right mind--unless their jobs/lives require a lot of time traveling by car--would not give up radio? Music is available by CD or online. Talk TV might not be as interesting as Talk Radio, but there's not that big of a difference.
2.12.2007 6:30pm
It does seem odd that about 30% of all age groups chose to keep radio, but I think that can be explained by (1) internet access, and especially broadband, still not being universal (2) talk radio-- a lot of people really do feel that Rush &c. are their main source of information (3) morning edition and all things considered, and (4) the impression that listening to the radio is morally superior to tv/internet. I think a lot of people would agree that they should cut back on tv and should cut back on the internet. But why not have the radio on in the background?
2.12.2007 6:52pm
Spartacus (www):
unless their jobs/lives require a lot of time traveling by car

This includes a sugnificant plurality (if not a majority) of Americans, myself included. And yes, I listen to a lot of radio even though I have CDs in my car (not hip to the whole iTune/iPod thing (yet?)). However, I still gave up TV and Radio and kept the internet, if only for practical reasons. I will gladly seek my entertainment in books and in the "real world". Nothing personal, guys.
2.12.2007 7:16pm
As being a person who has been AARP eligible for more than a couple of years, first to go, the TV, 2d, the radio.
2.12.2007 8:00pm
Cornellian (mail):
I was also wondering whether watching DVD's from Netflix counts as watching TV's, especially if you watch them on a computer or portable DVD player rather than an actual television. If that doesn't count, then I'd give up TV before the Internet in an instant. I hardly watch TV at all anyway whereas I'm constantly using my Internet connection. I don't listen to the radio much, usually only when driving to work, but it's a pleasant enough diversion for that limited use.
2.12.2007 8:30pm
markm (mail):
I'm 53 and the TV already went five years ago, when the cable company raised their charges too high. I had it disconnected, and broadcast TV never has been worth a damn around here, so I didn't even try to hook up an antenna. I still do use the TV as a DVD player, but my computer would substitute for that. The only radio I have is in the car, and I turn it on only for the 1-1/2 hour down to my daughter's house, a couple of times a month. So I guess this poll proves I'm young at heart...
2.12.2007 8:57pm
U.Va. 1L:
Well, I'm sitting here reading Volokh as a distraction from writing my appellate brief instead of taking a radio or TV break...

I fall in the area between the first two age groups. I use the radio in my car but that's the only time. I can't see myself paying for XM or Sirius satellite radio services; if I'm going to pay for music I'd rather buy it--preferably on a DRM-free MP3 or if I must as a CD.

I will never get cable/satellite TV unless (1) I have a roommate who wants it and to be equitable I split it, (2) I happen to live someplace where the rabbit ears can't pick up the major networks.

I would pay just about any amount for high-speed internet.

Neither radio nor TV will be going anywhere any time soon. Traditional radio will probably die sooner, but not for many years. True internet TV is a long way off--but coming all the same.

The true TV revolution is Tivo and other similar DVRs (digital video recorders). I've gotten to where I never watch TV live. I only watch a few shows (several news programs + Survivor + movies) but I always wait to watch them so I can skip the commercials on my Tivo. Why waste 15 min. of my life on commercials for a 1 hour television program? Why watch TV without being able to pause it if I need to answer the phone, make dinner, use the restroom, etc.?
2.12.2007 9:26pm
Truth Seeker:
Let's see, I can watch the best films ever made on DVD and I can listen to my alltime favorite music on CDs. But nothing could replace the Internet's availability of news, music, weather, maps, research, restaurants, government information, shopping, selling things, and dozens of other benefits. Why would anyone choose anything but the Internet???

I predict that within a decade, once broadband gets universal and can stream video effectively, and Internet receivers can be put in cars, TV, radio and newspapers will die. (Oh and we'll need Internet traffic reports- probably sent from highway sensors to your car directly.)
2.12.2007 10:29pm
Hei Lun Chan (mail) (www):
Well of course the Internet is going to be more popular than television if the Internet is defined as expansively as possible while television is defined as narrowly as possible. Are you really giving up TV if you can still watch last week's Lost on YouTube or iTunes, or watch last season on DVD? The interesting question is which one you'd give up if television is defined to include any program that has ever appeared on broadcast television (so no more YouTube clips of those shows if you give up television) and anything on DVD.
2.12.2007 10:51pm
In the 18-24 block: Not very hypothetical for me. Until I moved in with roommates who have a TV, I had just the internet at home. Of course I listened to NPR streamed over the internet everyday, and bought DVDs of the TV shows I was interested in and played them on my computer.
2.13.2007 1:55am
A. Zarkov (mail):
How do you watch "traditional television" using the Internet? The only way I know is to install a TV tuner card in your PC.
2.13.2007 1:16pm
Being in the military, with an unwillingness to watch AFN, I can assure you that I would rather give up television over the internet.
2.14.2007 2:58am