Americans Watching Less Live TV Than Ever Before

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Americans Watching Less Live TV Than Ever Before

*The following is excerpted from an online article from Business Insider.

Americans are still watching TV programming, but the way in which they choose to watch it is transforming rapidly. The rise of on-demand subscription services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime Instant Video are cutting into TV ratings, new data from Nielsen shows.

American adults still spend a huge amount of time watching TV each day. But the overall levels of viewing (which includes live TV + time-shifted viewing) declined 4.6% year-on-year. That's compared to a 4.2% year-on-year decline in Q3 and a 2.1% decline in Q2. The level of decline is accelerating.

Excluding time-shifted viewing, total live TV consumption was down 5.5% year on year to 114 billion person-hours of live TV video consumption.

Among younger audiences, the drop off in TV viewing was even more severe: 16% among 18 to 24-year-olds, and 10% among 12 to 17-year-olds.

The steep drop off of traditional TV viewing is correlated with a sharp rise in the number of US homes with access to a subscription video on demand service like Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix. Nielsen says 40% of US homes had access to a subscription video on demand service in Q4 (the pink segment in graph below), up from 36% in the same quarter the previous year.

Of those with access to video streaming services, Netflix is the most popular option.

The amount of media consumption per day is actually up as consumers have more choice about the way in which they view content. And the more devices and services they have, the more content they consume.

Nielsen's report could read like the start of an obituary for TV. But TV networks should instead be looking at the opportunities. The US economy is improving, meaning there is more money in consumers' pockets to subscribe to services like Netflix and buy the types of devices that is fuelling their increase in content consumption (and buy the products advertisers advertise against that content.)

And that's why -- as ratings are getting hammered -- more and more traditional TV companies are opting to launch streaming services. Most recently, HBO announced HBO Now will be available on Apple devices from April.

Source: Business Insider