SYDNEY: In a sign of the extent to which Australia has embraced online media, the internet is already close to parity with TV as the nation's preferred source of entertainment, a new report has shown.

The latest Deloitte Media Consumer Survey 2014 found 63% of its 2,300 respondents use online media for social, personal and entertainment compared with 64% who still rely on TV.

Now in its third year, the survey also revealed an increase of 170% in the number of Australians who check their social networks, a high rate (79%) of those who multi-task while watching TV, and openness to online ads, among many other findings.

It said Australia has more "digital omnivores", at 53%, than in the US (37%) and Japan (17%) – but not as many as in Norway (57%) and China (63%) – prompting Deloitte to suggest that "digital has come of age" in the country.

"It is the speed at which we are changing to digital that is most impressive," said Niki Alcorn, Deloitte media partner and co-author of the report.

"Our shift to social is up 170%, and our shift in entertainment preferences to the internet from TV has grown 10% year-on-year for the past three to its current 63% preference versus 64% for TV," she added.

Close to half (44%) of Australians are willing to view more online ads if they provide access to free content that they find valuable, explained Deloitte media leader Clare Harding.

Although she added that half still pay more attention to print ads and that TV is still the most influential medium in terms of purchase behaviour.

However, online ads are gaining importance, Harding added. "Ads delivered during or after an online video, for instance, appear to be becoming more influential, with 33% of surveyed respondents ranking these online ads in the top three online influences on their buying decisions."

Elsewhere, the report noted that the "digital tipping point" has already occurred for news – 35% of respondents said they either always prefer their newspaper content in a digital format with a further 35% restricting their print newspaper consumption to the weekend.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the Sydney Morning Herald noted that about a quarter (26%) of Australians will watch most or all of their content from the internet while 32% will watch a mix of traditional and digital media.

Data sourced from Deloitte, Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by Warc