12/10/2010 04:51 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Media Vegetables

Articles such as Dave Morgan's recent Online Spin, "CBS Audience Five Times Bigger than Facebook" are always a good tonic for the raging hormones of the Internet. Dave was struck by a presentation he saw from legendary CBS researcher David Poltrak comparing the audience sizes of CBS and Facebook. According to Poltrak, in the month of October CBS attracted almost 240 million viewers. Facebook attracted 151 million unique users. But CBS's viewers spent 210 billion minutes with the network in October while Facebook's unique users spend 42 billion minutes with the social network.

That sounds about right. I recognize me in all of that just as I did last year at this time when Neilsen's A2/M2 Three Screen report revealed that consumers were watching an average of 4.5 hours of television per day, compared to an average of 4 hours per week spent with the Internet. The television is never on during the day in our household but, by golly, at night the news, a couple of sitcoms, a movie, perhaps a cooking show or sports event will chew-up 4.5 hours of TV time before you know it. Then maybe someone will check quickly online for the weather before heading off to bed.

It all should remind us that the Internet is not TV - to repeat, not TV. I hate wasting time on the Internet. It happens, but it's painful: there is a sense of loss, probably because any time spent online requires the engagement of the user; therefore, any time lost is more keenly felt. Not so TV, which is an effortless medium. It requires no engagement. It makes no demand on the user. Hence, you can be regarded as a potato while being an avid television viewer. Avid Internet users, however, are un-potato like. They are shut-ins, perhaps. Drop outs maybe. But, they are not vegetables.

Which may be a good way to launch into the media value proposition of 42 billion minutes vs. 210 billion minutes. One is mineral, one is vegetable.