TV By the Numbers

by Julia

Timing is everything.  Just this weekend, Mike the Canadian claimed in the comments that, at least in Canada, internet usage surpasses television viewing. While it’s possible that Canadaian viewing habits are vastly different from American viewing habits, an article today from AdWeek by Chris Rohrs, president of the Television Bureau of Advertising, shows that here, that’s just nowhere near the truth.

Pardon me if I mention a few inconvenient facts that have surfaced in recent weeks. First, Nielsen reported TV viewing is at its highest point in history. That means in the entire 59 years since the company began compiling time-spent statistics, the numbers have never been bigger. To be more specific, the latest data shows the average American household, per day, spends eight hours and 21 minutes in front of the television. Men spend four hours and 49 minutes watching, and women spend five hours and 25 minutes. And teens, that demo that we “lost” to Facebook, YouTube and the iPod? They spend an average of three hours and 27 minutes per day watching television, and that’s also an all-time high.

Then there’s the study conducted by Ball State’s Center for Media Design on behalf of the Council for Research Excellence that was released in March. It’s been called the “largest observational look at media usage ever conducted.”

Some key findings: 99 percent of viewing in the past year was done on a “traditional” television set; less than 5 percent of TV viewing was DVR playback; and YouTube, Hulu and all other Web/cell phone media accounted for less than 1 percent of viewing.

While the study indicates that computer usage has supplanted radio as the second most common media activity, TV remains the dominant medium for media consumption and advertising. The Ball State findings affirm the Nielsen data: The average American adult is exposed to five hours and nine minutes of live TV each day, almost 15 minutes of TV via a DVR device and 2.4 minutes of video on the computer.

There are also some interesting findings in the article for those of you who think advertising doesn’t work. But as the article ends, “Nobody watches television anymore, except for everybody.”