Trouble on the set? With digital viewing up, linear TV dips

With mobile device use and on-demand offerings soaring, Nielsen's December 2014 Total Audience Report finds traditional TV is slipping while digital video continues its rapid rise, especially with kids.
December 4, 2014

Media consumption habits are shifting quickly, never staying in quite the same place for long. Especially in the kids space. As children continue to jump from platform-to-platform at blinding speeds―shifting swiftly between TV shows, games and apps―traditional broadcasters are having to juggle their programming to accommodate cross-device and cross-platform viewing.

These changes are highlighted in metrics firm Nielsen’s December 2014 Total Audience Report (formerly the Cross Platform Report), which finds that while traditional TV still accounts for the largest bit of the media-consumption pie by far, digital offerings like streaming services are gobbling up larger shares quickly.

The report shows that the average American spends four hours and 32 minutes a day watching traditional TV, which is down 12 minutes from last year. Overall, a user notches roughly 141 hours each month watching TV, down 4% from 147 hours in 2013.

Meanwhile in the digital space, the numbers keep jumping. For 18- to 49-year-olds, time spent watching digital video each day shot up by 53%, while traditional TV dipped 3%. For Americans ages 25 to 54, digital video watching rose 62% and TV dropped 2%.

More importantly for this industry, kids ages two to 11 now spend 22 hours and 41 minutes a week watching TV, marking a more than two-hour drop from last year’s 25 that they spent in front of a TV. Teens are also down in their TV viewing stats, posting just over 19 hours a week, as opposed to 21.44 hours last year.

In terms of DVD/Blu-Ray use, kids logged close to two hours a week on the devices, and spent 2.5 hours watching time-shifted TV. Video game consoles were used on average for three hours a week.

As for surfing the internet, kids spent 19 minutes a week online via their computer, with teens spending 46 minutes. For kids’ time spent watching video online, the number increased to 18 minutes, from last year’s 11 minutes. Teens spent an average of 26 minutes watching video on online, up slightly from 21 minutes in 2013.

On the tech front, the report found 40% of American households had an SVOD service, up from 35% in 2013. Notably, DVD/Blu-Ray Players dropped from 83% in 2013 to 81% in 2014, while DVRs (49%) and game consoles (46%) stayed the same. High-def TV ownership was up 3% this year to 86%, and tablets are continuing to take over, with 44% of households now owning the device, up significantly from last year’s 28%.


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