TV User Erosion Accelerates

In the battle for share of consumer time spent with media, TV is losing to digital -- most likely being displaced by over-the-top streaming of video content that previously would have been captured as part of the TV "universe" by Nielsen, but which is now being attributed to digital content consumption instead.

The table above shows the quarterly trend in persons using television (PUT) for viewers two years or older, analyzed by the equities research team at UBS.

“After improving trends to start the year, PUT (i.e., traditional Live TV + DVR usage) declines have worsened in the second half of 2018,” the analysts wrote in a report sent to investors Friday morning.  “Quarter-to-date P2+ PUT is declining 5.4%, in line with the third quarter's 5.5% decline, but much worse than the 2.9% decline in the first half of 2018.”

While TV’s linear usage erosion has been mitigated somewhat by viewers accessing it via Internet-connected devices -- up 42% year-over-year in October, according to a recent analysis by Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser -- there clearly is seepage of audience to other non-TV sources.

According to Wieser’s analysis of Nielsen Digital Content Ratings data for the same period, digital content consumed on the major platforms -- Google/YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. -- rose 14% year-over-year.

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