Sizing Up the US Media Universe Across Devices

January 12, 2016

Nielsen-US-Media-Reach-in-2015-Jan2016Traditional TV (live + DVR/time-shifted TV) and AM/FM radio continue to have the widest monthly reach of any media among Americans, reports Nielsen in its latest look at the media universe. While the timing of the report doesn’t provide for direct year-over-year comparisons to last year’s installment, there are some trends to be found from the latest release.

[For an in-depth look at the demographic composition of these and other media audiences, including TV, radio, print and social, see MarketingCharts’ latest report, US Media Audience Demographics 2015.]

TV Screen

A comparison of this latest report’s data with the previous edition indicates that the monthly traditional TV audience of 282 million (during Q3 2015) is down from 285 million during Q4 2014. Also on the TV screen, the latest figures show that, during that time period:

  • The number of Americans viewing DVR/time-shifted TV remained steady at 181 million;
  • The number using a DVD or Blu-Ray player dropped by 17 million to 125 million;
  • The number using a game console declined by 7 million, to 90 million; but
  • The number using a multimedia device surged by 23 million, to 66 million (a more than 50% gain).

AM/FM Radio

While research shows that online radio’s reach continues to grow, AM/FM radio‘s audience remains largely steady, averaging 259 million monthly for the year-long period ending in mid-June 2015, compared to 258 million for the year-long period ending in mid-September 2014.

Smartphones & Computers

The latest figures show a narrowing of the gap in internet access on PCs versus smartphones:

  • During Q3 2015, 182 million used the internet on a PC on at least a monthly basis, down from 198 million during Q4 2014; while
  • 176 million used apps or the web on a smartphone, up from 164 million.

As such, the audience gap between PC and smartphone internet use narrowed from 34 million in Q4 2014 to just 6 million in Q3 2015.

The shift from PCs to smartphones is evident in the video viewing audience, too. Indeed, Nielsen’s figures show that more Americans now watch video on a smartphone than do so on a PC. Specifically, in Q3 2015:

  • 133 million Americans watched video on a smartphone on at least a monthly basis, up 11 million from Q4 2014; while
  • 127 million watched video on a PC, down 19 million from Q4 2014.

Social Media

This year’s social media figures combine app and mobile web use (where they were separated last year), such that direct comparisons can’t be made to last year’s report. Nevertheless, the latest figures show that social media has a larger monthly audience on smartphones than on PCs:

  • 169 million accessed social media via app or web on a smartphone during Q3 2015; versus
  • 115 million who accessed social media on a PC (down 18 million from Q4 2014).
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