Who’s Still Watching Live TV? (Most People.)

April 17, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Featured | Household Income | Men | Television | TV Audiences & Consumption | Video | Women | Youth & Gen X

Ipsos-Americans-Typically-Watching-Live-TV-Apr2014A couple of new studies suggest that despite the apparent rise in over-the-top video consumption, particularly among youth, the vast majority of Americans usually watch TV programming the old-fashioned way: live on TV. According to survey results from Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX), that’s the typical viewing method for 81% of Americans; a separate study from BroadStream Solutions similarly finds that roughly 8 in 10 American adults are watching live TV. Predictably, though, live TV viewing skews towards an older audience.

As the Ipsos survey results indicate, 89% of American adults aged 50-64 usually watch TV programming live on TV, a figure which drops to 82% among 35-49-year-olds and 72% among the 18-34 crowd. That aligns with study findings from Nielsen, which show a strong skew towards older age groups for traditional TV viewing in comparison to TV content viewed on computers and smartphones. Other data from Nielsen also shows that older age groups watch significantly more traditional TV than their younger counterparts, although the recent drop-off among youth hasn’t been as drastic as sometimes implied.

Further results from the Ipsos survey suggest that respondents with low education levels are more likely to watch live TV than those with high levels of educational attainment (84% vs. 76%). Business owners are less likely than those who don’t own businesses to typically watch TV programming live on TV (71% vs. 82%) as are senior executives and decision-makers in relation to those who don’t hold those roles (72% vs. 82%).

While a solid majority of each demographic group can still be found watching live TV, that’s not to say that other viewing methods aren’t also taking hold:

  • 40% typically use a DVR or other recording device attached to a TV;
  • 20% watch on computers or laptops;
  • 17% stream from the internet to the TV; and
  • 10% watch TV programming on mobile devices.

The BroadStream Solutions study finds a similar order of preference for watching TV content.

Compared to the 20-country average in the Ipsos survey, US adults are less likely to typically watch TV programming live on the TV set (86% globally) or on computers and laptops (27% globally), while being right around the average in terms of streaming from the internet to the TV and viewing on mobile devices.

Neither survey looked at actual consumption figures, although recent research from Horowitz Associates suggests that TV content viewers could be spending up to 20% of their viewing time streaming content from alternative platforms.

About the Data: The research was conducted on Ipsos’ “G@54” wave between February 4 and February 18, 2014. The monthly Global @dvisor data output is derived from a balanced online sample in 24 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. For the results of the survey, an international sample of 15,551 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed.

Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and one of 500 is accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points in their respective general populations. In countries where internet penetration is approximately 60% or higher the data output is weighted to reflect the general population.

All figures from the BroadStream survey, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,067 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 10th ”“ 12th, 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+.)

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