For many Americans, new technologies simply mean new toys. Nearly every advancement in consumer technology since the 1980s has in some way been tied to entertainment. Table 5.1 shows the amount of money Americans spent between 1998 and 2001 for media content, which included pay-TV subscriptions, video games, home video, and music. On average, most American adults spent $683.33 on all media in 2001, which was $113 more than they spent in 1998. This price tag does not seem unreasonable considering how much time Americans devoted to listening to music or immersing themselves in the virtual worlds of television and video games. Table 5.1 reveals that in 2001 the average American adult watched 1,661 hours of television. During 2001 Americans age twelve and over listened to an average 983 hours of radio programming and 238 hours of recorded music, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003; those twelve and over also spent an average seventy-eight hours playing video games.
While broadcast network television was still the media outlet of choice in 2001, Americans have rapidly been turning to new forms of entertainment made available by the Internet and other technologies. According to researcher Mary Madden in America's Online Pursuits (Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project, December 22, 2003), thirty-six million American adults downloaded music online as of October 2002. Representing 32% of American adults connected to the Internet, this number indicated an increase of 71% over the twenty-one million online users who had downloaded music in July 2000. With respect to online gaming, forty-two million people (37% of Internet users) played some type of online game as of July 2002, be it poker, EverQuest, or Warcraft, as opposed to only twenty-nine million people in March 2000. More people also seemed to be getting their gossip, sports, and news online as well. Nearly 44% of Internet users, for instance, checked sports scores or information online in 2002, versus only 35% two years before.