April 13, 2001, 12:00 AM

Time spent online soars 60% in last two years, says new Media Metrix study

Average number of days people go online holds steady at 15, but time spent online grow from 12.8 hours to 20.2.

While the average number of days per month people used the Internet in the last two years grew 5.6%, from 14.2 days in March 1999 to 15 in March 2001, the average number of hours per month people spent online increased nearly 58%, from 12.8 hours to 20.2 over the same period, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, a provider of market intelligence. The statistics are part of the latest Media Metrix U.S. Top 50 Web and Digital Media property ratings for March 2001 released today.

"The number of days people go online remains steady, but the increasing length of people`s online sessions shows that their comfort level with the medium continues to rise," said Doug McFarland, president, Media Metrix, the online ratings unit of Jupiter Media Metrix. "Businesses and advertisers with an eye to the future should note that an engaged and viable audience not only exists, but both the audience and its consumption of the medium continues to grow."

Among the retail-oriented highlights of the Media Metrix March 2001 Digital Media and Web Ratings:

* Napster Digital had 15.7 million unique visitors in March 2001 versus its peak this year of 16.9 million in February, causing it to fall in the rankings from number 13 in February 2001 to number 14 in March.

* While Napster`s usage has declined slightly in the U.S., the property has become dominant globally. In February 2001 Napster Digital was the seventh largest property with 29.4 million unique visitors among 14 leading wired countries. These countries -- including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and United States -- represent more than 85% of the total online population worldwide.

* Breaking into the Media Metrix Top 50 was X10.com, a discount retail store, at number 32 with 8.4 million unique visitors, and Lowestbids.com, a real-time auction site, at number 39 with 7.5 million unique visitors.

* Amazon remains the number 1 online retailer, ranked No. 11 of all web sites.


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