All Things Digital

by Peter Kafka

A new salvo from the “TV isn’t dead, it’s bigger than ever” crowd: Another study that argues that given the choice, most people spend most of their time with their eyes glued to their TV sets, not their laptops.

Last month, we saw a Nielsen study that reached this conclusion. Now comes, um, another study funded by Nielsen, but conducted by a different group, which says more or less the same thing. The difference: Rather than asking consumers how they spend their video time, researchers actually followed them around their house and watched them watch video.

Seriously. Look, here’s a picture!

watching-watching

Different methodology, same results. Both studies say people spend 99% of their time watching TV and only a tiny fraction of their time watching Web or mobile video. The top bar in the chart below comes from the earlier Nielsen study; the bar below comes from the new, Nielsen-funded study (click to enlarge):

nielsen-1-and-2

And these results don’t vary much if you account for age: Even the young folks watch more TV more than 98% of the time (click to enlarge).
tv-by-age

For argument’s sake, let’s say that both studies are accurate, and that the digital chattering classes are much more interested in Web video than regular humans are. So. Should we stop paying attention to Hulu, Google’s YouTube (GOOG), and every other web video site? Of course not.

If you’re in the business of making TV, or buying and selling TV ads (like many of the new study’s sponsors happen to be), then these results can give you some assurance that you’ll still have work in the near future — maybe even several years, given that the advertising business is so resistant to change.

But do remember that Saturday Night Live’s Lazy Sunday hit YouTube, and kicked off the Web video boom, in December 2005 — less than four years ago. Think these Nielsen numbers will stay the same in 2013?

A new salvo from the “TV isn’t dead, it’s bigger than ever” crowd: Another study that argues that given the choice, most people spend most of their time with their eyes glued to their TV sets, not their laptops.

Last month, we saw a Nielsen study that reached this conclusion. Now comes, um, another study funded by Nielsen, but conducted by a different group, which says more or less the same thing. The difference: Rather than asking consumers how they spend their video time, researchers actually followed them around their house and watched them watch video.

Seriously. Look, here’s a picture!

watching-watching

Different methodology, same results. Both studies say people spend 99% of their time watching TV and only a tiny fraction of their time watching Web or mobile video. The top bar in the chart below comes from the earlier Nielsen study; the bar below comes from the new, Nielsen-funded study (click to enlarge):

nielsen-1-and-2

And these results don’t vary much if you account for age: Even the young folks watch more TV more than 98% of the time (click to enlarge).
tv-by-age

For argument’s sake, let’s say that both studies are accurate, and that the digital chattering classes are much more interested in Web video than regular humans are. So. Should we stop paying attention to Hulu, Google’s YouTube (GOOG), and every other web video site? Of course not.

If you’re in the business of making TV, or buying and selling TV ads (like many of the new study’s sponsors happen to be), then these results can give you some assurance that you’ll still have work in the near future — maybe even several years, given that the advertising business is so resistant to change.

But do remember that Saturday Night Live’s Lazy Sunday hit YouTube, and kicked off the Web video boom, in December 2005 — less than four years ago. Think these Nielsen numbers will stay the same in 2013?

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