August 23, 2012

Who's Watching Television?

I have finally mustered the fortitude to wade through Nielsen's most recent Cross-Platform Report. (Okay, full disclosure -- I skimmed it.)

Nonetheless, I think I have a grasp on the salient points and, because nobody loves you like I do, here are the important things you need to know.
  • 98% of video viewing is still being done on that dead old thing in your living room. No, not that dead old thing. The television.
2% of video viewing is being done online. In the past few years online video viewing has gone from about 1% to about 2%. To me, the slow growth of online viewing is remarkable. Even a Luddite dinosaur like me is surprised at how powerful TV remains.
  • About 7% of total television viewing is time-shifted. Once again, it's amazing to me how small this number is.
Not everyone has a DVR. If we look only at homes with a DVR, the number goes up a little more than double to about 16%. This is in conflict with studies done a while back by the Duke grad school of business which reported that among people with DVRs about 5% of viewing was time-shifted and Ball State University which reported that less than 5% of total viewing was time shifted. All 3 studies used actual monitored behavior (not self-reported nonsense) so it's hard to know what to believe. I give the nod to Nielsen on this one because their study is more recent. Nonetheless, I remain mildly skeptical.
  • The average person spends over 6 times more time watching TV than on line. 
As someone who spends way more time on line than watching TV, the numbers on this are very surprising. Warning on this one though -- I suspect the real numbers are even more weighted toward TV. The "time spent on line" numbers are self-reported. People almost always under-report TV viewing and over-report other viewing behaviors.
  • Average TV viewing has dropped one minute a day.
In the previous study, Nielsen reported that live viewing plus DVR viewing had reached its all-time highest level at 4 hours and 58 minutes a day on average. In this report, live plus DVR viewing dropped by 1 minute a day. I'm sure some web lunatic will use this as evidence that TV is dead.
    That's our media lesson for today. Now you can go back to Facebook...I mean, work.

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