TV Sourcing and Viewing Continues to Change

According to the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report Americans spend more than 33 hours per week watching video across the screens, but how they’re consuming content, traditional TV and otherwise, is changing.

Consumers are increasingly making Internet connectivity a priority, 75.3% pay for broadband Internet (up from 70.9% last year):

  • 90.4% pay for cable, telephone company-provided TV or satellite
  • Homes with both paid TV and broadband increased 5.5% since last year

The vast majority (90.4%) of U.S. TV households pay for a TV subscription (cable, telephone company or satellite), while roughly three-quarters (75.3%) opt for broadband Internet. That’s a lot, and the percentage of homes has remained stable despite a poor economy and a multitude of entertainment options available to consumers. In fact, since last year, the number of homes paying for both a TV subscription and broadband has increased 5.5%.

Changes are afoot, however, as consumers seek out the subscription service that makes the most sense for them, says the report. The number of homes subscribing to wired cable has decreased 4.1% in the past year at the same time that telephone company-provided (telco) and satellite TV have seen increases of 21.1% and 2.1%, respectively.

Viewing Shifts in America’s Living (Q3 2010 vs. Q3 2011)

How Households Access TV

% Change vs. 2010





   Wired cable


How Households Subscribe to Cable and Internet


   Cable and no broadband


   Broadcast only and broadband


How people view video across screens


   Mobile video users


   Internet video time among users


   Time shifting among all TV homes


Source: Nielsen, Q3 2011

Nearly a million more homes are subscribing to broadband while skipping a traditional paid TV subscription. There are 5.1 million broadcast-only/broadband homes, compared to 80.8 million cable-plus/broadband homes and 22.3 million homes that subscribe to cable-plus and no broadband. Though broadcast only/broadband homes comprise the smallest subscriber group, the number of these homes has increased by 22.8% since Q3 2010.

Though less than 5% of TV households, homes with broadband Internet and free, broadcast TV are on the rise, growing 22.8% over last year. These households are also found to exhibit interesting video behaviors: they stream video twice as much as the general population and watch half as much TV.

Video Streaming (% of Internet Households)


% of Households

Broadcast Only/Broadband


Broadcast Only/No Broadband


Cable Plus/Broadband


Cable Plus/No Broadband


Source: Nielsen, Q3 2011 (Based on Nielsen Cross- Platform Homes for Persons 2+ in Internet households)


Average Daily Minutes (All Users)


Broadcast-Only/ Broadband

All Cross-Platform Homes

TV viewing minutes



Streaming video minutes



Source: Nielsen, Q3 2011 (Based on Nielsen Cross- Platform Homes for Persons 2+ in Internet households)

Whether they’re cord-cutters or former broadcast-only homes that upgraded to Internet service, these homes represent a very small but growing group of U.S. consumers. Interestingly, roughly the same percentage of consumers in broadcast-only/broadband homes watch traditional TV, stream or use the Internet as in all cross-platform homes; the difference between these groups falls to time spent on these activities. Even broadcast-only/broadband homes spend the majority of their video time watching traditional TV: 122.6 minutes, compared to 11.2 for streaming on average each day.

TV Households with Devices (in 000's)

Device Owned

Q3 11

Q2 11

Q3 10

Any DVD Player _








Any High Definition TV




Any Video Game




Source: Nielsen, February 2012 (Based on Universe Estimates for the entire quarter)

For more data from Nielsen, and access to the PDF file of the Cross-Platform Report, please visit here.



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