LONDON: Using the internet has now reached a "parity of popularity" with watching television, according to a study covering six major markets.

Ofcom, the British governmental body, surveyed 6,102 people online in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and US.

When assessing the communications and media pastimes they undertook at least once a week, 92% of the panel mentioned accessing the web on a computer, with watching television on 91%.

"Watching TV has historically been the most popular media activity; for internet use to achieve parity of popularity is a particularly noteworthy development," the study said.

Reading national newspapers scored just 41% here, trailing the 44% of people regularly playing games, the 53% logged by magazines, and the 71% of people frequently listening to the radio.

Turning to social networking, 73% of the sample had created a page or profile on a relevant site to date, with exact figures varying from 80% in Italy to 70% in the UK.

Facebook was the leading platform in all the featured countries, used by more than 80% of this audience everywhere except Germany, where it posted 72%.

Looking at the wider impact of social networks, 16% of contributors agreed they watched less television because of utilising these services, and 17% said the same for reading printed national newspapers.

Elsewhere, precisely 50% of the British and German web users polled claimed to own a smartphone, hitting 46% in Italy and Australia, 44% discussing France and 42% regarding the US.

Tablet uptake peaked at 12% among Australian participants, as Italians and Americans recorded 11% apiece, beating France and Germany with 10% each and the UK's total of 9%.

Connected and smart TV ownership attained a 13% high in France, the only market yielding double-digit ratings, while the US and UK logged the greatest DVR penetration, on 41% and 36% respectively.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff