One-Quarter of TV Time is Now Spent Streaming

September 9, 2020

Nielsen Video Streaming Minutes Distribution by Age Sept2020Many US adults say their favorite way to spend an evening is in front of the television, and for streaming capable households in the US, more of those evenings are likely spent streaming content on their TV screens. Nielsen’s most recent Total Audience Report [download page] finds that, among streaming-capable homes, one-quarter of TV screen time is spent streaming content.

Nielsen found that in Q2 2020, the amount of time Americans spent streaming video on a weekly basis increased significantly, going from 81.7 minutes during Q2 2019, to 142.5 minutes this year.

Americans ages 35-54 accounted for slightly more than one-quarter (27%) of time spent streaming video content during the quarter, about equal to the share held by 18-34-year-olds (26%). Of note, older Americans (ages 55+), who tend to be slower to adopt new technology, matched 18-34-year-olds in constituting 26% of the total time spent streaming in Q2, up from 19%. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Boomers individually are spending more time streaming than their Millennial counterparts, but is likely a reflection of the difference in size of the 55+ and 18-34 populations.

Time Spent with Live TV Shrinking

Although Nielsen’s data shows that adults are spending an average of one minute less per day with video now (5:56 – HH:MM) than they did in 2018 (5:57), the distribution of that time has shifted. Indeed, time spent with traditional TV (live and time-shifted) TV has dropped by 30 minutes (4:16 in Q1 2020 vs. 4:46 in Q1 2018).

By contrast, the time spent with TV-connected devices such as DVDs, game consoles and internet-connected devices, has increased some 20 minutes from 0:46 in Q1 2018 to 1:06 in Q1 2020.

Video Viewing on Mobile Devices Increases Somewhat

The share of total daily time spent with video-focused app/web on smartphones has also increased in the past 2 years, up 7 minutes per day to 0:17 in the first quarter of 2020, while time with video-focused app/web on tablets is up a couple of minute per day to 7 minutes on average.

Adults spent more than twice as much time each week viewing video on a smartphone (2:00) than on a tablet (0:52).

Younger adults (18-34) unsurprisingly spent well over the average amount of time viewing video on their smartphones (3:02), while those 65+ spent about one-third of that time each week watching video on their smartphones (0:58).

These older Americans also spend a below-average amount of time viewing videos on tablets, at about a half-hour per week. By comparison, adults ages 50 and younger spend about an hour per week on average watching videos on tablets [18-34 (0:59), 35-49 (1:04)].

It’s important to note that these figures are averaged among the entire adult population, so include those who do not watch video on their mobile devices. Naturally, time spent among users of these platforms is considerably higher.

More Adults Watch on Smartphones Than TV-Connected Devices

In Q1 2020, 58% of US adults used TV-connected devices on a weekly basis, while one-third watched video on a computer, and fewer watched video-focused apps/web on a tablet (29%).

However, smartphones have a considerably greater reach, with 72% of adults using video-focused apps or websites on a smartphone weekly. Other research from Hub Entertainment shows that using smartphones to watch shows or movies on a weekly basis has increased in 2020 over last year.

The full report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings based on Nielsen’s Streaming Meter, a subset of nearly 1,000 streaming-capable homes from Nielsen’s National TV panel.

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