But a more in-depth analysis reveals some important insights into what’s really going on. I often give Nielsen a hard time about how it measures and reports more specific data and program ratings, but it is actually very good at measuring broad media usage.
I’ve looked at quarter 2 reports from the last three years, and here are some highlights from my analysis:
-- For the first time, adults are spending more time with other screens than with traditional TV. But that’s not because of a major decline in TV viewing, which was only down by 13 minutes per day over the past two years. The amount of time spent with other screens, however, is up by nearly two hours per day over the same period, indicating a significant increase in screen multitasking while watching television.
-- The amount of time adults spent watching all video was actually unchanged from last year, and up slightly versus two years ago. Traditional television declined by about 4% from last year, while time spent with video on other screens grew by 31%.
This obviously varies considerably, depending on age. Even among adults 18-24, overall video viewing is stable from a year ago, but traditional TV viewing is down by 16% (2 hours, 22 minutes per week). This is compensated for by viewing video on other screens, which is up by 45% (2 hours, 18 minutes per week).
-- Compared to two years ago, time spent with all video screens has increased among adults 35-49, 50-64, and 65+. As with other age groups, traditional TV is down and viewing of other video screens are up.
-- We media folk, who tend to have numerous media devices and subscriptions, often lose sight of the fact that despite being available for more than 20 years, DVR penetration only recently inched past the 50% mark. Subscription video on demand, which has only been around half as long, has shot ahead and is now available in almost 60% of the country).
So, what does all this mean? Well, people still like watching video content on a television set, and traditional TV is still by far the most-viewed screen among all age groups. But traditional TV’s lead over other screens is rapidly narrowing, particularly among younger viewers. On the other hand, total video viewing across all screens continues to rise.
Content is still king. Research and audience measurement need to be increasingly nimble to keep up. Commercial audience measurement is still basically nowhere – not a good sign as commercial avoidance gets increasingly easier.