According to Nielsen, U.S. consumers may be cutting the pay-TV cord, but they are still using their televisions. “The measurement firm found that 92 percent of all viewing among U.S. adults (those 18 and older) still takes place on the TV screen,” reports TechCrunch. The Q4 2016 data “compares TV screen-based viewing to viewing on PCs, tablets, smartphones, and other TV-connected devices like game consoles and streaming players such as the Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and others.” Time viewing content on TV represented 82.1 percent, while time using TV-connected devices accounted for 10.2 percent.
Consumers used their personal computers 5.1 percent of the time to watch video, smartphones 1.8 percent of the time, and tablets for a mere 0.7 percent. “These findings contradict the current belief that the increasing usage of mobile phones for video viewing has come at the expense of the TV,” suggests TechCrunch.
“What we found was that contrary to the popular narrative that smaller screens were taking away time from the TV glass, when we looked deeper we found that overall time spent viewing on the TV had the most minutes among every age or ethnic demographic looked at,” said Peter Katsingris, SVP audience insights for Nielsen. “In some cases the share of viewing was as much as 97 percent.”
The Nielsen study did not examine the specific content being watched, so it is likely that many of the consumers were not watching linear TV, but rather Netflix and other streaming services, regardless of the device.
However, it is worth noting that smartphone use is increasing. “For example, 91 percent of those 18 to 34 use smartphones each week, but only 79 [percent] watch TV,” notes TechCrunch. “In addition, smartphones account for 30 percent of the total average audience among those 18 to 34, versus 29 percent for TV. Compare that with the older age group (50+), where smartphones only account for 17 percent, and TV 54 percent.”
While the TV screen may still be the most popular viewing device with older demographics, mobile phones are becoming more popular with younger audiences.