US TV Viewing Time Hits New High

24 February 2009

NEW YORK: Americans spent a record average of five hours a day watching TV in the last quarter of 2008, according to figures from Nielsen. The number of people viewing broadcast content on mobile phones and DVRs also saw a quarterly increase of 9%.

In a recent article in Admap magazine, Nielsen's Matthew Dodd and Pete Doe argued "Americans are still avid traditional TV viewers despite the proliferation of new technology."

According to Nielsen's latest "Three Screen Report", around 11 million people watched programmes on a cellphone in the final three months of 2008, while 74 million Americans played back programmes on DVRs during the same period.

Viewing figures for online video also rose by 2.3% to 123 million, with the average viewer spending three hours watching web video each month, up by almost 22%, or 15%, from the previous quarter.

By contrast, a total of 285 million people watched TV at home in the fourth quarter, up around 1% to 151 hours a month.

Nielsen also found that 18–24 year olds spent the same amount of time watching content on the web as via DVR playback, with each medium taking five hours of viewing time a month.

A survey of 1,865 people by Nielsen SportsQuest also found 26% had reduced their TV-related spending in late 2008, with 16% cutting down on pay-per-view, and 19% on film rentals; by contrast just 3% cancelled cable or satellite subscriptions.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/Nielsen; additional content by WARC staff