Viewers Spend More Time Watching, but Not All on TV

Nielsen Tracks TV, DVR and Computer Viewing

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NEW YORK ( -- "Screen time," or the amount of time the average American spends watching content on a thin, flat surface, is on the rise. But the real growth is coming from nontraditional watching, not TV time, according to Nielsen.

Nielsen found that Americans spent 56% more time watching time-shifted TV, primarily on a digital video recorders, and 9% more time using the internet to watch at home and at work. Overall TV viewing -- live and played back -- increased only 4%, the consumer-research company said, in what may be a sign of how consumer habits are changing the way people use traditional media.

More viewing on more screens
Nielsen found that U.S. consumers watched live and time-shifted TV a total of 127 hours and 15 minutes in May, compared with 121 hours and 48 minutes in the same month in 2007. Viewing of time-shifted TV on its own rose to 5 hours and 50 minutes, compared with 3 hours and 44 minutes in the year-earlier period. Internet use increased to 26 hours and 26 minutes, up from 24 hours and 16 minutes.

While time spent with screens may be on the rise, that time looks to become ever more fractured. Nielsen said a combined total of more than 65% of U.S. homes now receive digital cable or satellite, getting nearly 160 channels. Twenty-five percent of U.S. homes now have DVRs, and 35% have video on demand, according to Nielsen.

Other sources of video are also developing into forces to be reckoned with, said Nielsen. The company said 119 million unique viewers watched 7.5 billion video streams in May 2008. As of the first quarter of this year, 91 million Americans, or 36% of all U.S. mobile-phone subscribers, owned what Nielsen called a "video capable" phone.

Youth less glued to the tube
The company's statistics show that older Americans are watching more traditional TV than their younger counterparts. Americans 65 and older watched 177 hours and 50 minutes of TV in May, compared with 124 hours and one minute by Americans aged 35 to 44 and 103 hours and 27 minutes by Americans aged 18 to 24. Advertisers' favorite demographic has long been consumers between the ages of 18 and 49.

Meanwhile, Americans between 25 and 34, and 35 and 44, spent the most time watching time-shifted TV, spending 9 hours and 28 minutes and 8 hours and 13 minutes, respectively. Americans between 18 and 24 spent the most time in May watching video on the Internet, 3 hours and 41 minutes.
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