78 percent of Germans watch television on a daily basis, almost one in two (48 percent) watch for more than two hours a day. This makes watching television by far the favorite leisure activity, above listening to music (71 percent daily), reading (58 percent daily), or surfing the Internet (44 percent). Only just over four percent of Germans say they never watch television. In addition to information (90 percent), most people look to the television schedule for entertainment (85 percent) and relaxation (71 percent). The latter is especially important to women: three quarters (76 percent) of female viewers are looking for relaxation; two thirds of men (66 percent) give this as a reason for switching on the television. One in three (34 percent) deliberately keep the evening free for their favorite show and 16 percent don’t even answer the telephone if it rings while they are watching.
At the same time, television is a social medium: for one in three viewers (35 percent), spending time with others is an important motive. Men (39 percent) and young women (52 percent of the under-30s) particularly like watching television with friends. Very many families also see television as a way to spend time together (43 percent) – especially when the children are young (53 percent of people surveyed with children under five years old). What they then choose to watch together – be it parents looking forward to a crime-thriller in the evening, or family-friendly children’s shows, like Mister Rogers – varies. Older people are watching television more and more so they can join in the conversation. Flat-screen televisions have become the modern day hearth around which family and friends gather in the evening.