Nielsen: 'Traditional' TV viewing wanes even as video viewing increases

The Nielsen Company has found an apparent anomaly in American TV viewing in its fourth quarter Cross-Platform Report.

"Even though the average TV viewer is watching 6 fewer minutes per day of traditional television, viewing is growing," the report stated.

Most of this viewing occurs on screens other than TVs, such as increasingly popular tablets which "more than 15 percent of US TV homes own," the report continued. Other viewing devices include the expected: DVRs, gaming consoles "increasingly being used as vehicles for content delivery" and, with about 36 million mobile phone owners in the United States, smartphones.

All of these choices, though, don't mean that Americans have abandoned their TVs and are using them as expensive pieces of glass furniture. Instead, the report indicates, about five million homes that don't get TV over-the-air or through a cable, satellite or telco provider still use their TVs for games or to view programming via services like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) or Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) TV.

Nielsen developed statistics to show that the percentage of "traditional" TV viewers has dropped from 99 percent to slightly less than 96 percent in the last three years. Part of that is economically driven, but most is because people are finding new ways to make use of their televisions along with other devices--and the change can't be pinned to one age, gender or ethnic group.

"No longer does one size fit all, and trends continue to emerge," the report said. "Yet, the US consumer's attention continues to lie in the quest to seek TV and TV-like professionally produced content."

Broken down, Nielsen said consumer attention was focused 35 hours per week on "watching video across screens and close to another 5 hours using the Internet on a computer." Broken down further, one hour and 38 minutes per week were spent on gaming devices. That number climbed to 2 hours and 48 minutes for "devices that have the ability to stream video content," the report continued. At least on that point--gaming devices--there was "distinct differential viewing by demographic group."

"The shifts in the distribution of time spent across screens and devices demonstrate that more and more of us are taking advantage of the increased ability to determine what we watch, how we watch and where we watch," the report concluded.

For more:
- see Nielsen's Cross-Platform Report

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