TV & Video Viewing on the Rise

The numbers are in for Americans' TV and video consumption, and The Nielsen Company reports that our TV and video watching habits have reached new heights. Whether this is the natural progression of a long-standing trend, a byproduct of more people staying home because of the recession, or perhaps a combination of the two, Nielsen states that "the average American watches more than 151 hours of TV per month"--which averages out to over five hours of TV per day--"an all-time high." 

Nielsen calculates that the average American watched one hundred fifty-one hours and three minutes (151:03) of TV per month in the fourth quarter of last year (4Q08), based on viewers who were over the age of two. This represents a modest 3.6-percent increase in the amount of time (145:49) viewers spent watching TV during this same time period last year (4Q07). Not so modest is the increase in the number of viewers who are watching timeshifted TV; 4Q08 saw a substantial 37.1-percent increase from last year (4Q07). Based on the numbers that Nielsen reported, about one in four TV viewers watches timeshifted TV, and these viewers average seven hours and eleven minutes (7:11) of timeshifted TV watching per month.

Even with the explosive growth of timeshifted TV viewing, timeshifting still pales in comparison to the number of people watching video online. While almost 74 million people watch timeshifted TV during 4Q08, this same time period saw over 123 million users watching streaming video over the Internet. Albeit, the Internet video viewers spent much less time watching these videos, averaging only two hours and fifty-three minutes (2:53) per month.

Watching video via mobile phones shows some growth as well, with just over 11 million users who watched video on their cell phones during 4Q08. Curiously, Nielsen reports that users spent more time watching video on their cell phones--an average of three hours and forty-two minutes (3:42) per month--than users did watching video on the Internet.

As to who is watching what, the 65-year-old-and-over (65+) crowd not only makes up the largest TV-watching demographic, but the 65+ group also watched the greatest amount of TV during 4Q08, at an average of two hundred seven hours and twenty-nine minutes (207:29) per month. Adults aged 45 to 54 made up the largest-size audience of those watching video on the Internet; but it was adults aged 18 to 25 who watched the most amount of video from the Internet--averaging five hours and three minutes (5:03) per month. The 25 to 34-year-old group viewed more video on their cell phones than any other demographic; but for those who watched video on their cell phones, the group that watched the most of it was teenagers (ages 12 to 17), at an average of 6 hours and 38 minutes (6:38) per month. Males watch more video on their mobile phones than females do; but females watch more video on the Internet and watch more TV than males.

There was at least one statistic Nielsen published that we were a bit surprised by:

"The work day continues to be the primetime for Internet video. Weekdays outpace weekends for online video viewing with 65% of online video viewers streaming content between 9am - 5pm Monday through Friday, versus 51% of online video viewers logging on between 6am - 8pm on weekends."

We initially found ourselves asking if more people watch YouTube while at work than at home; but then quickly realized that people are more likely to be in front of computers during their workday than when they are at home or out-and-about. This also probably explains why the average viewer watches less than three hours of Internet video per month--that's all we can probably sneak in while the boss isn't around.