RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – More consumers are spending more time surfing the Web for entertainment than ever, presenting new challenges to marketers seeking to get the products onto buyers’ radar screen, according to a new survey from IBM.

According to Big Blue, 19 percent of the people participating in the survey spend six hours or more a day for “personal use” of the Web. That’s 6 percent higher than TV users in the same category.

Now that’s a tremendous amount of time for anybody to spend on the Web or TV each day. Take away six to eight hours for sleep and eight to 12 hours for work and there’s not much time left for anything else. These folks must eat while in front of their PCs or laptops or mobile devices.

Web use nearly matches TV is a more reasonable category – one to four hours per day on the Web or watching reruns and other TV fare. Sixty percent of the surveyed folks spend 1-4 hours on the Web vs. 66 percent for TV.

With the Net becoming more popular, IBM concludes that consumers are in more control of their entertainment choices than ever. Advertisers “will follow,” IBM said.

"Consumers are demonstrating their desire for both wired and wireless access to content: an average of 81 percent of consumers surveyed globally indicated they’ve watched or want to watch PC video, and an average of 42 percent indicated they’ve watched or want to watch mobile video," said Bill Battino, the Communications Sector managing partner for IBM Global Business Services.

"Given the rising power of individuals and communities, media and entertainment industry players will have to become much better at providing permission-based advertising and related consumer-driven ratings services,” he added.

Consumers are showing that they are willing to pay for content, too – a fact that has been reflected in earnings reports from major telecom providers such as Verizon and A&T who say data sales and services are producing more revenue.

The IBM survey found that 18 percent of the Web users subscribe to a newspaper online, 23 percent use a portable music service, and 7 percent are subscribing to video content for their mobile phones.

The sea change coming in content demand and delivery is not restricted to the U.S, either. The IBM survey included more than 2,400 households in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Austrlia.

Berman concluded from the survey that the Net “is becoming consumers’ primary entertainment source.” He warned that TV executives face the same challenge that the phone companies do – consumers opting for other means of communication and entertainment other than traditional landlines. The phone companies are seeing consistent loss in landlines even as they gear up to offer services such as Internet Protocol-based TV services over their networks.