The Internet is the most essential medium for consumers and newspapers are the least, according to an Edison Media Research study conducted by Arbitron in January and February 2007.

Over a third of consumers deemed newspapers "least essential," while nearly a quarter felt that way about the Internet. Both radio and television had the fewest "least essential" mentions, at 18%.

Media that US Consumers Consider Most and Least Essential to Their Lives, 2002 & 2007 (% of respondents)

Larry Rosin of Edison Media Research said, "It is not a stretch to say that the Internet has become just as important as television as an important source of information and entertainment in the lives of Americans."

Over a third of respondents said they were using the Internet and television more than in 2002. Radio was the only medium to take a major hit, with an equal percentage of respondents saying they used it more and less.

Change in Use of Select Media among US Consumers, 2002 & 2007 (% of respondents)

Equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson measures time spent with media by using ratings data, survey research and consumer purchase data. Between 2000 and 2006, US consumers increased their total media time by 5%, from 3,333 hours per year in 2000 to 3,499 in 2006. Veronis Suhler estimated that media usage will rise to 3,518 hours in 2007.

Time Spent with Select Media by US Consumers, 2000-2007 (hours per person)

Put another way, that is an average of 9.6 hours a day of media exposure in 2006, up from 9.1 hours in 2000.

Via eMarketer