Read Write Web

by Frederic Lardinois

Even though online video is clearly making its mark in the media landscape, TV is still the predominant means of media consumption for the average American. Indeed, according to a new study sponsored by Nielsen, even among young adults 18-24, Internet video only represents less than 1% of their total media consumption. In total, the average American adult spends about 8 1/2 hours a day in front of a TV, computer, or mobile phone screen. On average, these adults also watched about 72 minutes of TV ads per day.

Boomers Consume More Media

Unsurprisingly, this study, which tracked the media consumption habits of 350 Americans, also found that older adults tend to spend more time in front of their TVs, while they also spend significantly less time in front of their computers. Interestingly, among all age groups, the overall time spent in front of screens is very consistent (about 8 1/2 hours), but boomers 45-54 consume about one hour more than all the other age groups.

With regards to computer usage, surfing the web, emailing, and using ‘any software’ are the predominant activities. On an average day, young adults 18-24 watch about 5 minutes of online video. As expected, this group also uses email far less than any other group (20 minutes), except for users over 65 (11 minutes). According to this study, younger adults also have a stronger tendency to use all different kinds of media simultaneously (think surfing the web on the couch while watching TV).

Online Video is Still Very Small Compared to TV

Surfing the mobile web (0.9 minutes per day), and watching mobile video (0.1 minutes per day) is clearly only a hobby for a small minority of users. We do know, however, that those users who do watch online and mobile video tend to watch a lot of it, so clearly, this market has a lot of room to grow, even though TV will surely hold on to its dominant position as the preferred means of consuming video content for quite a while.

A Few More Interesting Results

  • users who owned a DVR early on used it to watch TV far more often than those who only got a DVR recently.
  • HDTV owners who just bought their first or second HDTV watch more TV than others
  • Americans over 45 spend more time fiddling with the screens on their GPS navigation systems than they spend on watching Internet video.

Sadly, the report does not include data for users under 18. Our suspicion is that the numbers for online and mobile video viewing might be quite different for this demographic.

Overall, the results from this study also correlate well with Nielsen’s own A2/M2 Three Screen Report from 2008.

Here is a copy of the press release (pdf).