Live TV Viewing Dips, Mobile Rises

Viewers' appetite for live TV is shrinking.The average American digested about four hours and 32 minutes of live TV each day in the third quarter, a drop of 12 minutes from 4 hours and 44 minutes a year ago, according to Nielsen’s third quarter total audience report.

Granted, that’s only a 4% drop, but it’s noteworthy considering the rise in smartphone use, which leapt by 23 minutes a day to log in at one hour and 33 minutes each day.

These results illuminate the shape of trends and habits to come. Convenience, time-shifting and viewing on-demand content are top media priorities for many consumers, and that often means they’ll opt to watch on a smaller screen for the sake of convenience.

The shift may be most pronounced in younger viewers. Those in the 18 to 24 age range watch nearly 20% less live TV than a year ago, and while their online video usage has grown 21% year over year, those percentages don’t represent a replacement of minutes on an oranges to oranges basis.

Many adults are watching more YouTube, too. The social video site saw a 25% boost in users in the last six months, with 85% of adults visiting the site each month, more than Facebook and Twitter. Also, 63% of online adults use YouTube regularly to watch video, according to GlobalWebIndex.

In light of these changes, networks and media outlets need to focus more on helping surface content to those consumers who want it when they want it, Nielsen concluded. “Distribution and discovery need to move hand in hand and be met with the total audience measurement of both programs and commercials,” the report said.

4 comments about "Live TV Viewing Dips, Mobile Rises".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, December 9, 2014 at 3:21 p.m.

    Change starts small but often gets worse, albeit slowly. When your roof starts to leak, for example, it's not very useful to observe how little water has yet accumulated. The important consideration is how deep it will eventually become, if nothing changes. In the case of changing habits and reversing patterns, my analogy fails miserably, because viewing habits, once formed, are a lot harder to change than roofing material.

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, December 9, 2014 at 3:42 p.m.

    Quantify the inflection points where live TV viewing on cable and OTA versus OTT/SVOD on mobile/digital becomes secular than cyclical, that is the $$$$million question.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 10, 2014 at 12:56 p.m.

    When some activity is seldom engaged in, a gain of 10-12 minutes a week may seem like a sea change. When another activity is widespread and voluminous, a "drop" of 10-12 minutes a week is almost meaningless unless it begins to accelerate. At the present rate, it will be decades before live TV viewing falls to levels that might cause advertisers to abandon this "legacy" platform. In any event, waiting for traditional TV to, somehow, implode is a poor strategy for digital ad sellers. Surely, they can compete more effectively for those TV ad dollars they lust for by making their own medium more ad friendly and motivating advertisers by results not promises.

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, December 10, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.

    ... and the low hanging fruit are always the easiest to pick first.

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