Americans love watching television but they are getting cozy with watching it online and on their phones. According to Nielsen’s just released Q4 2014 Total Audience Report, traditional TV viewing stayed pretty steady with the year before. Compared to Q4 2013, that manner of viewing dipped just 4.1% to 149:14 hours a month on average.
However, go beyond the small screen to the smaller or really small screen and you see some traction and telltale signs of the way we really live and watch today. Time spent watching content on the Internet rose a strapping 38.5% in Q4 ’14 over Q4 ’13 to 10:29 hours even with the number of those who watch video online slipping by 4.2% to 146 million, the Nielsen report finds. Sending up a flare that broadcast and cable both need to send out a search party for, the strongest sign of where consumers are gravitating for their content is in our hands. The time smartphone owners spend watching video content on their device and devices increased 27% to 43:14. Add to that the finding that the sheer number of people who watch video content on their iPhones, Galaxy S5 or other smartphones shoot up nearly 20% to 121.8 million from the same frame in 2013. Overall, smartphones make up 77% of cell phone ownership now with the highest market penetration being among Asian-Americans (87%), African-Americans (83%), Hispanics (82%) and White America in last place at 74%.
Underneath all those numbers Nielsen reveals an increasingly digitally segregated America where 36% of all households subscribe to Netflix, 13% Amazon Prime and 6.5% to Hulu Plus and, at the same time, 24.5% of all homes don’t have broadband internet.
Also, today’s report shows that economics are truly where rubber hits the digital highway. With entertainment a noteworthy part of household expenditures, those making less than $40K a year account for 36% of TV households and 21% of Subscription Video on Demand access customers. Without trying to make too much of a leap of faith about how usage of SVOD services could be replacing traditional TV, Nielsen’s report shows that those making $100,000 or more make up 19% of TV HH but 29% of SVOD subscribers.
“Increased video viewing on digital platforms to both native digital content and TV-produced content, as well as the rise of SVOD across all platforms, are changing the way we look at the consumption of traditional media.” said the media research company’s Dounia Turrill in an media industry understatement if ever there was one. “Economics in digital remain challenging for all but a few,” the SVP, Insights adds in today’s Q4 report. “With continued and accelerating fragmentation, the risks and rewards are potentially high, and the ability to stake a claim in the expanding industry pie is central to companies’ growth.”
As more and more outlets and broadcasters follow FX’s lead in dealing only with Live + 3 ratings results and discarding Live + Same Day, it is worth noting that time-shifted TV saw a small but noteworthy r5.2% rise to 15:26 in Q4 compared to the same period in 2013. Similarly, those watching time-shifted TV — AKA ad-skipping TV — was up 4.1%t o 181.1 million.
BTW – Americans are still watching a lot of TV the nearly old fashioned way. The land of the free spends nearly 40 hours a week viewing on traditional or time-shifted TV.