Nielsen's new Total Audience Report has confirmed a trend that most industry observers believe: Online video streaming viewing went up 60 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of this year while traditional television viewing dropped 4 percent during the same time period.
Traditional television viewing among all age groups is hardly dead--the average American still watches over 141 hours of live TV a month--but the number is slowly falling. Last year, the report says, Americans watched 147 hours of live TV a month.
Online video, meanwhile, is on the rise, albeit with a steep hill still in front of it. Online viewing jumped to 11 hours a month, which may seem miniscule except that it compares with 7 hours a month just a year ago.
Online video viewers still demand top quality from whatever they're watching, wrote Dounia Turrill, senior vice president of insights at Nielsen and the report's author.
"Hits drive viewership and consumers live comfortably in this new media world," she pointed out. "Content remains king and consumers are steering their own content discovery experience."
The survey found that length and access meant less to consumers than getting what they want when they want it.
Demographically speaking, there was nothing new in the report. Television viewing by those in the 18-to-49 age group went down 3 percent and digital viewing for everyone--including adults over the age of 55--jumped 50 percent.
The report conceded that digital platforms have changed the way consumers find and view content on new devices and through subscription streaming services. Also changing consumer habits are time-shifted (DVR) devices.
The question is how to understand and quantify this shifting viewership so that it can be tracked, Turrill wrote.
"Media companies, digital players and measurement are at a crossroad. Content remains king and consumers are steering their own content discovery experience," she wrote.
The detailed 26-page report is full of statistics that explain how Nielsen tracks viewership in a new area of content consumption. "Our goal is to deliver comprehensive measurement of all audience and all advertising by following the consumer" to whatever medium is being used to access the content, she wrote.
- Nielsen has this report
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Nielsen: Digital video use up dramatically in all age groups, linear TV use trending down