In Russia, Internet eclipsing TV in popularity

May 28, 2012

It was bound to happen at some point.

In Russia, it now seems the Internet is a more popular source of information than TV – sort of.

Actually, Russia’s most-visited website, Yandex, had more daily visitors than the country’s most-popular TV channel had viewers, according to The Moscow Times.  In April, Yandex, which is Russia’s largest search site, had 19.1 million visitors, but Channel One, the state-run channel and the country’s most popular, had only 18.2 million. Russia’s second and third most popular sites, and, clocked 17.5 million and 16.2 million, respectively.

The data come from a survey conducted by the media-monitoring group TNS Russia. The survey also showed that the gap is shrinking between the number of Russians who prefer to get their info from TV to those who prefer online, according to The Moscow Times.

“The figures indicate a certain trend: more Russians are moving online. The reasons are growing incomes, decreasing prices for computer hardware and broadband Internet access, as well as increasing Internet penetration, including mobile Internet,” the article reported one analyst as saying.

But don’t count Russian TV out yet. The medium is still extremely popular in the country – 90 percent of the country watch TV everyday – and it continues to grow, according to Radio Free Europe. Last year, advertisers spent 32 billion rubles ($1 billion) in advertising, which is up 10 percent from the same period last year, according to The Moscow Times.

While TV continues to maintain a hold in the country, the rapid popularity growth of the Internet comes at an interesting time in Russian society. The country has seen the rise of large protests and opposition movements over the past several months, and many of these communities are finding their voices online, despite attempts by the Kremlin (and others) to curb the opposition’s success with the Internet.

As RFE points out, it will be interesting to see what effect this trend will have on the relationship average Russians have with their elected officials.

But what I think would be more interesting to know now is how these above figures break down in terms of generational divides. I bet if you looked at the numbers for those born before the fall of the Soviet Union and also for those born after, the trend – showing the Internet’s growing popularity in relation to TV and its role in determining how Russians in the future will get their information – would be even more striking.

About the Author

Joshua Boissevain

Joshua Boissevain is a research associate and editorial assistant at Transitions Online. He's also a freelance journalist and photographer based in Prague. Find him on twitter at @joshboissevain.
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