What Goes Up, Doesn't Come Down: Nielsen Finds TV Defying Multimedia Gravity

In a trend that appears to defy media planning logic, if not actual physics, America's consumption of TV continues to expand, despite the expansion of other multimedia options. In an update to its quarterly "State of the Media" reports, Nielsen Co. indicates that U.S. consumption of television continues to expand, albeit with a little help from a frenemy: the DVR.

The rate of TV consumption is, " essentially flat compared to the same period a year ago," Nielsen said, adding that, "the emergence of the DVR as a widely distributed device has changed viewing behaviors in many homes.

"The average person living in a DVR home watched 24.5 hours of DVR playback during this period," Nielsen continued. "Looking at demographic groups more closely, the age group that watched the most television by DVR playback was viewers age 25-34. That demographic watched 29.5 hours of DVR playback per month."

While the number of Americans watching TV during the second quarter of 2010 is up only 0.8% over the second quarter of 2009, the number watching time-shifted viewing has grown 18.4%.

The result is that overall time spent watching TV by Americans is essentially flat, as the amount of viewing done on a time-shifted basis continues to grow.

One thing that does not appear to be changing, according to Nielsen, is that teens continue to consume the least amount of TV, while consumption is growing among older viewers.

Overall Usage Number of Users 2+ (in 000’s) – Monthly Reach

Q2 2010 Q1 2010 Q2 2009 % Diff Yr to Yr
Watching TV in the home° 286,648 286,225 284,306 0.82%
Watching Timeshifted TV° 97,914 94,599 82,677 18.43%
Source: The Nielsen Company
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1 comment about "What Goes Up, Doesn't Come Down: Nielsen Finds TV Defying Multimedia Gravity".
  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , November 19, 2010 at 8:27 a.m.

    The industry needs a new metric for "TV viewing" because the total number of daily hours is no longer meaningful. Before the DVR, number of daily hours translated into the economic health of the industry: more viewing meant more ads seen, which meant more revenue.

    No longer. Over 40 percent of homes have DVRs and the "tipping point" has arrived. Nielsen measures live and delayed viewing, plus total viewing, yet the industry (and its attendant trade publications) still cling to the idea of total viewing. Time to surrender that practice. As the percentage of delayed viewing steals eyeballs away from the skipped commercials, the old metric has lost its sway. Frankly, I'm surprised anyone reports it anymore.