Nielsen Reports on TV, Internet and Mobile Usage among Americans

July 8, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Media & Entertainment | Television | Youth & Gen X

Screen time of the average American continues to increase, with TV users watching more TV than ever before (127 hrs, 15 min per month), while also spending 9% more time using the internet (26 hrs, 26 min per month) than last year, according to the Nielsen Company.

Nielsen today released its first comparable US figures showing video and TV usage across the “three screens”: television, internet and mobile devices.

A small but growing number of internet and mobile phone users are also watching video online (2 hrs, 19 min per month), as well as using their cell phones to watch video (3 hrs, 15 min per month):


The US television landscape is growing increasingly more complex and digital, Nielsen said:

  • As of May 2008, more than 65% of US homes receive digital cable and satellite combined.
  • These digital TV homes receive nearly 160 channels.
  • 25% and 35% of US homes have DVR and video-on-demand, respectively.

“Commercial television is alive and well – growing 1% year over year – despite the rapid adoption of other platforms,” said John Burbank, chief marketing officer for The Nielsen Company. “Moreover, timeshifting represents less than 5% of total viewing.”

Online Video

Some 220 million Americans have internet access at home or work, and 73% (or 162 million) went online in May. Watching video on the internet is no longer a novelty: 119 million unique viewers viewed 7.5 billion video streams in May 2008.

In addition, as of Q1 2008, 91 million Americans (36% of all mobile phone subscribers in the US) owned a video-capable phone.

“Web video is changing the definition of the internet for those under the age of 24…[who] use the internet less than older users but spend a greater percent of time viewing video. For instance, children 2-11 spend relatively little time on the internet – just 4:58 vs. 38:47 for adults 35-44. But much more of their time is likely spent watching video than checking email or traditional websites,” Burbank said.


“While the number of mobile video users is relatively small at about 4 million, the video usage these early adopters report is impressive, perhaps due to ‘always available’ mobile devices. It is an early indicator of how this technology is becoming more commonplace among mobile users,” Burbank concluded.

About the data: Nielsen’s “Three Screens Report, May 2008” (pdf) is the first of a quarterly series that will be available to the public. The TV and internet figures are calculated using Nielsen’s National TV and Internet panels, which are measured electronically and reported on a regular basis. The Mobile Phone figures are collected by Nielsen via a quarterly survey.

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