Now that two in five Europeans have online access, consumer consumption of traditional media is changing, and while cannibalization has begun, the Net provides print media with opportunities, according to new research from Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR).

“With the exception of travel, the Net isn’t even close to the top source of information in the vast majority of our categories,” said Forrester Technographics® Analyst Paul Jackson. “The more Net users gain experience online, the less they watch TV. In markets with heavier TV-watching habits, those with online access are watching between 10% and 15% less TV each week than offline users. News isn’t one of the initial draws of the Internet, and only 16% to 17% of those who have been online for less than six months state that the Internet is their primary source for national and world news. But this increases to around 35% to 37% for those who have two or more years of experience on the Web.”

Forrester warns that those involved in the media value chain should prepare themselves for the approaching multichannel storm. Forrester advises broadcasters, publishers, and advertisers to work together to ensure that consumers are acquired across multiple channels, see consistent commercial messages on each, and are loyal to the brand and content rather than the medium.

“Of all the traditional media channels, newspapers fare best as people move online,” Jackson added. “Publishers should ensure that their newspaper properties continue to reach the loyal online readers in its “hot metal” online edition and that those revenues from associated online editions, advertising, and eCommerce are realized. When asked about the usefulness of comparative product reviews prior to purchase, 58% of online consumers said that they are useful — compared with 38% of offline consumers. This presents an opportunity — magazine publishers should be offering premium-priced comparison content and linking this to best-of-breed eCommerce sites.

“For some time now, TV networks have been fretting as the advertising pie fragments because of multichannel TV. Now they have another problem — the pie is shrinking, too. Even when the market recovers, consumer behavior won’t — in fact, TV watching will fall further with growing consumer adoption of broadband online access.”

The Brief “Media Cannibalization Begins,” is part of Forrester’s Consumer Technographics 2001 Europe Benchmark Study in which Forrester asked more than 56,000 consumers what their primary media sources were for 14 categories of information. Technographics Benchmark Europe helps clients develop effective marketing, media, and product strategies for Europe’s most lucrative markets. Surveys are mailed twice each year to 13 key European markets. The research provides extensive information on consumer technology ownership and usage, attitudes toward technology, and detailed demographics, along with defined variations outlined for each country. Additionally, it enables clients to understand how consumers’ day-to-day behavior changes as they adopt new technologies.