TV Begins Eroding As Primary Video Device: Forcing Redefinitions Of 'Households,' Work Vs. Leisure Time

TV is still the media elephant in U.S. living rooms, but the way Americans watch television and other forms of video programming is changing so rapidly that a top Nielsen executive says the media ratings giant has begun working with its clients to “redefine” the very nature of the households it measures. The reason, Pat McDonough, senior vice president-insight and analytics at Nielsen, said Monday during the opening session of the Advertising Research Foundation’s annual Audience Measurement conference in New York, is that Americans increasingly are accessing video programming from non-traditional devices and in non-traditional ways.

“One of the things Nielsen is working on with its client groups is considering redefining the definition of the TV home,” she said after revealing top-line findings from Nielsen’s soon-to-be-released second-quarter 2012 Cross-Platform Report, which shows that the percentage of time spent watching video programming via a conventional TV has declined to 93.7%.



While that may not seem like a precipitous shift, it is down from 99.4% two years ago when the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence released findings of a study detailing how Americans consume video programming.

“Screen-shifting happens,” quipped McDonough, adding that in the current environment, new issues are arising for U.S. households, such as “How good is your router?” By that, McDonough was referring to household wi-fi routers, which are the means many homes utilize to get broadband access for a variety of “connected devices,” including portable gadgets like computers, tablets and smartphones, or even connected TV devices such as video game consoles or dedicated TV Internet access hardware.

Of the 6.3% of household video consumption that takes place, McDonough said about 3% each currently is being done either online or via mobile devices, and that other devices like video game consoles are rising fast. She said other big trends are the aging and the multicultural diversification of American households -- but despite all those trends, Americans are watching more video programming than ever before: an average of 35 hours per week.

“We are spending more time watching video than we are working,” McDonough added, alluding to average U.S. labor estimates.

That was a perfect segue for a presentation of a study that came later Monday morning by the Media Behavior Institute, with MediaVest and Microsoft, which purported to be the first of its kind to measure media consumption while people are working.

That study, which utilized MBI’s USA TouchPoints method, concluded that 25% of all media consumption takes place while people are working, and that much of that time spent consuming media isn’t measured, and most likely isn’t planned and targeted as part of conventional media-buying and advertising strategies.

Importantly, MBI Executive Vice President Mike Bloxham said time spent working isn’t always in a work location, especially as technology blurs the lines between American lifestyles and workstyles. He said the proper way to look at work-time media is based not on location, but on “activity.”

The study also found that new technology, especially mobile devices and Internet-connected computers, has helped shift 20% of Monday through Friday work time “outside an official workplace.” And much of that time, whether in an office or not, is spent using media.

Media usage ranges from work-related activities to personal activities, and can vary by profession.

While the Internet is the dominant work-centric medium, accounting for nearly half of worker access to media during the workday, radio and audio streaming was No. 2 (38%). While the role of TV is flipped during work time, 15% of workers watch live TV while doing their jobs.

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