Despite the rise of the internet and other competing entertainment technologies, TV remains extremely popular with the American public, according to a study released in October 2011 by The Nielsen Company. Results from “Cross-Platform is the New Norm” indicate that during Q2 2011, adults 18 and up were watching 40 more minutes of TV a week (35 hours and 37 minutes) than in Q2 2010 (34 hours and 58 minutes).
Among younger adults, the average amount of weekly TV viewing has slightly declined in the past year (by 23 minutes for adults 18-24 and a more significant 59 minutes for those 25-34). However, average time watching TV has risen for all age brackets 35 and up, especially among adults 65 and older (a two-hour jump).
9 in 10 TV Households Pay for Subscription
Slightly more than nine in 10 (91%) TV households paid for a TV subscription in September 2011. Less than 1% of TV households have canceled a subscription, while about 3% have dropped broadband cable service and 6% have changed cable providers. Nielsen data indicates only 3% of US households do not have a TV.
DVR Timeshifting Grows
During Q2 2011, the average DVR household timeshifted 11 hours and 18 minutes of prime time TV, or 12.1% of the total. The amount of timeshifted TV has been steadily climbing since Q2 2006, when the average DVR household timeshifted one hour and 56 minutes of prime time TV, or 2% of total prime time TV viewed.
More recently, the average DVR household timeshifted 10 hours and 46 minutes of prime time TV in Q2 2010, or 11.5% of total prime time viewing. Further demonstrating the growing penetration of DVRs, in 2006 just 2.2% of adults age 18-49 watched two shows that aired in the same time period. By Q2 2011, this percentage had more than tripled to 7%. Nearly 40% of US households have a DVR.
Prime Time Co-Viewing Makes Comeback
While rates of co-viewing prime time broadcast and cable TV are lower in 2011 than in 1992, they are still higher than in 2006. In Q2 2011, 57% of men and 49% of women co-viewed prime time broadcast TV. Compared to 1992, the percentage of men has dropped 12% from 65% and the percentage of women has dropped 20% from 61%. However, compared to Q2 2006, the percentage of men has risen 7.5% from 53% and the percentage of women has risen 9% from 45%.
Women hold the advantage in co-viewing cable TV, with 44% co-viewing in Q2 2011 compared to 41% of men. Rates have dropped more substantially since 1992 than for broadcast TV, with the percentage of women declining 32% from 65% and the percentage of men dropping 23% from 53%. However, since Q2 2006, the percentage of women has climbed 10% from 40% and the percentage of men has risen 14% from 36%.
DVRs Encourage Co-Viewing
DVR viewers are actually more likely to co-view content than watch it alone. DVR’s total reach of adults 18-49 watching TV alone is 9.42%, compared to 11.71% of those watching TV with a partner or spouse, 10.96% of adults watching TV with their children, and 5.61% of those watching TV with other people.
Prime Time Preferences Shift
While the US prime time (8-11 PM) TV audience has remained fairly consistent at around 200 million since the 2001-02 TV season, previously released historical data from The Nielsen Company indicates the makeup of prime time programming has changed significantly. Most notably, reality TV was much more popular in the 2010-11 season (Sept. 20, 2010 – August 28, 2011) than it was 10 years ago, even though it is down from its peak popularity levels.
In 2001-02, reality TV accounted for about 22% of the prime time TV audience watching the top 10 programs. By 2010-11, it accounted for about 56%, an increase of almost 155%. And 2010-11 did not mark the height of reality TV’s popularity during the past decade. In 2007-08, reality TV comprised more than three-quarters (77%) of the audience for the top 10 prime time TV programs, meaning it is down 27% from its peak popularity.