Nielsen: TV is still leading in viewership

There's a lot of noise about viewers moving away from traditional TVs in favor of the Web or an app on their mobile devices, but new research from Nielsen found folks still like watching programming on their old-fashioned TV sets, spending an average of 55.5 hours watching traditional TV. That compares to nearly 15 hours on time-shifted TV; 34 hours using the mobile Web or an app on a smartphone; and about 28 hours via the Internet on a computer. The data comes from Nielsen's Cross Platform Report based on third-quarter 2013 data.

Nielsen's latest data also found that second-screen usage is on the rise. Some 41 percent of people using tablets and smartphones look up information about the shows they are watching while they are watching them, according to the study. Another 29 percent are either texting or emailing while they watch a show and 18 percent are reading social media posts while they watch TV. Indeed, Nielsen has reported that 36 million people sent 990 million tweets about TV last year. 

Despite the continued health of TV viewing, some advertisers including MasterCard and Verizon Wireless are moving more of their ad dollars to the Web and away from TV, according to The Wall Street Journal. And the trend is likely to continue as online outlets ramp up their programming lineups. 

Advertising money for online video is "definitely coming out of TV," Ben Jankowski, head of global media for MasterCard, told the WSJ. While companies have been putting money into online video ads for years, few talked about moving TV ad dollars there. But with improvements in online video content and more accurate audience measurements, media buyers are becoming more comfortable with the Web in terms of ad buys.

Indeed, nearly 88 million people watched online video on a daily basis in March, according to comScore. That's up 14 percent from the same period last year, according to WSJ

Further, digital media drew about 25 percent of total ad dollars last year, according to eMarketer, and should reach 31 percent by 2017. At the same time, eMarketer said TV ad spending will continue to capture the largest share of U.S. ad spending--though the number is expected to drop slightly from 38.8 percent in 2013 to 38.2 percent by 2017.

In 2018, eMarketer predicts advertisers will spend more on digital than on TV. The firm said that digital ads--including not just online video but all website ads and mobile ads--will capture 36.4 percent of all advertising spending, just above TV's 36.1 percent share.

For more:
- see this MediaPost article
- see this Wall Street Journal article
- see this eMarketer post

Related articles:
Nielsen: People watch just 17 of 189 available channels
Broadcasters convince Nielsen to withhold broadband-only subs from ratings sample
Comcast partners with Nielsen to experiment with ads for on-demand content