Published On: June 27, 2011

Surprise, Surprise. Americans Love to Watch TV

Published On: June 27, 2011

Surprise, Surprise. Americans Love to Watch TV

Nielsen, the media company that performs the Nielsen ratings, which rank television usage and viewing habits, has released the results of its quarterly report, which contains some interesting information, if not all that surprising.

nielson_logo.gifNielsen has released its quarterly cross-platform report that analyzes Americans' TV-viewing habits. Even though the overall conclusion is hardly a shocker (we like to watch a lot of TV), it's interesting to dig into the details and see if the emerging trends line up with our expectations.

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The report finds that, during the first quarter of 2011, Americans watched more TV than ever before--via traditional TVs, mobile devices, and the Internet. TV viewership increased 22 minutes per month per person over last year, and TV remains the primary source of video content for all demographic groups. The highest quintile of TV viewers averages 10 hours of TV consumption per day, while the lowest averages an hour per day.

we_love_to_watch_TV_graph.gifAbout two-thirds of TV homes have an HDTV, an increase of more than 20 percent over last year. Meanwhile, 45 percent of TV homes have a video-game console, and 40 percent have a DVR. Even though a few people may be abandoning the pay-TV model for other paths, the vast majority of TV watchers (91 percent) still uses a subscription TV service. Service delivered by satellite and telephone companies increased, while service delivered by wired cable decreased slightly. The amount of homes that receive only over-the-air broadcasts held steady and remains less than a tenth of total households.

Although we still watch a lot of TV content, we're growing a bit less dependent on the traditional TV set. Mobile viewing saw a huge gain, increasing 41 percent over last year and more than 100 percent since 2009.

Of course, the most significant trend is the rise of streaming media via the Internet, and the report makes note of "interesting and unprecedented behaviors" that have emerged over Q4 of 2010 and Q1 of 2011. Up until the fall of 2010, Nielsen reports consistently showed that the heaviest media consumers had the heaviest usage across all platforms. Now, we're seeing more of a split between traditional TV and streaming video on the computer. The people who view the highest amount of traditional TV stream less Internet video, and the heaviest streamers watch the least amount of traditional TV--particularly in the 18-34 age group.

This data is essentially in line with our expectation of how the streaming-media "revolution" is proceeding. Nielsen does stress that "the group of consumers exhibiting this behavior is significant but small" and that "more than a third of the TV/Internet population is not streaming" at all. I found it interesting that the people who watch the most streamed content (18.8 minutes per day, on average) still watch an average of 272.4 minutes per day of traditional TV. So, they certainly aren't turning their backs on the traditional delivery method...at least not yet.

Additional Resources
• Read more original content like this in our Feature News section.
• See more stories like this in our Industry Trade News section.
• Explore LED HDTV and Plasma HDTV reviews to watch all that TV on.

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