US TV viewing levels at a record high

22 May 2009

NEW YORK: The average American watched television for 153 hours a month in the first quarter of this year, a record high, while the amount of video content being viewed via the internet, mobile phones and DVRs has also increased, The Nielsen Company says.

Consumers in the US are increasingly watching video material on "three screens" – television, computers and mobile phones – and Nielsen tracks these figures throughout the year to assess emerging trends on each of these mediums.

According to the research firm, a total of 284.5 million Americans watched TV at home in the first quarter of 2009, up 1.2% year-on-year, but down by more than 800,000 on the final three months of 2008.

Over-65 year olds viewed the most content on television each month, at 210 hours, compared with a low of 104 hours among 12–17 year olds.

Nielsen also found that the number of people playing back content on DVRs increased by 37.3% on an annual basis, to 79.5 million, in the first three months of 2009.

In all, DVR owners "time shifted" some eight hours worth of material over the course of a month, up 40%, or by over two hours, compared with the same period in 2008.

The 18–24 year old age group consumed nearly six hours of content on digital video recorders, and also streamed just over five hours of video from the internet.

Some 163 million people went online in Q1, up 3.2%, with the typical American spending 29 hours a month on the net, including three hours watching video.

By age group, the 35–44 year demographic spent the most time on the web, at 42 hours a month, with women making up 53% of the audience for internet video, compared with just 41% of all viewers for similar content on mobile phones.

A total of 13.4 million consumers watched video on a mobile phone between January and March this year, up from 8.8 million in the first three months of 2008, and by over 2 million quarter-on-quarter.

However, the typical amount of time spent playing such content on a wireless device actually fell by five minutes on a quarterly basis, and peaked at six-and-a-half hours among 12-17 year olds.

Data sourced from The Nielsen Company; additional content by WARC staff