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Ninety-nine percent of video is watched … on TVs!

Yep, that brain-busting statistic is from a Q3 Nielsen study. The report says that in Q3 2009, the average American watched more than 31 hours of television per week. Thirty-one minutes of that time was sourced from a DVR. While TV viewing is down 29 minutes from the same period in 2008, that’s to be expected because there wasn’t the Beijing Olympics or a presidential election.

In addition to television viewing, the average consumer spent four hours on the Internet and 22 minutes watching online video. Internet video consumption is also on the rise, with users watching 53 more minutes of video online in Q3 2009 versus the same period in 2008.

Mobile video usage is slowly growing. In Q3 2009, a consumer spent three minutes watching mobile video each week. That’s actually down from last year. No reasons were given for the decrease.

The TV set is where people go to consume video. Not surprising, the 65-plus demographic consumes the most television, almost 44 hours. However, this demographic also uses the Internet more than teenagers, approximately two-and-a-half hours versus one-and-a-half hours for teenagers. The 18-24 demographic is the only one that spends more time watching online video than time-shifted television. Overall, Internet video viewing is growing. It’s up by 53 minutes over Q3 2008.

For broadcasters interested in mobile TV, teens do most of the viewing — just over seven hours per month. However, even mobile video users in the 45-54 age group report viewing almost three hours of video on mobile phones per month. While the per person minutes of mobile video consumed is down, the number of people who view mobile video is up. There are 15.7 million Americans watching video on their mobiles, which is up 53 percent from last year.

Another statistic from the Nielsen research is that social networks are becoming a popular source of online video. Measured overall, the amount of time spent watching social network videos increased 98 percent from October 2008 to October 2009. Smaller increases were measured in other age groups. The 35-49 demographic increased its viewing of social media videos by 37 percent, and the 65-plus age demographic increased viewing by 47 percent when compared to last year.

The survey’s results are summarized in Table 1 to the left. (See Footnotes at the end of the article.)

The average American consumes 34GB of data — every day!

The research team of Roger E. Bohn and James E. Short released their study, “How Much Information? 2009: Report on American Consumers” in early December. The study looked at multiple types of information sources including radio, television, Internet and print, and measured the results in bytes, words and hours of consumer information.

The study concluded that in 2008, Americans consumed information for about 1.3 trillion hours, an average of almost 12 hours per day. The study’s authors say that amounts to 3.6 zettabytes and 10,845 trillion words. Measured on per-person basis, that amounts to 100,500 words and 34GB — per day! In case you’re unfamiliar with a zettabyte, it represents 10 to the 21st power bytes, or a million million gigabytes. And by the way, these totals do not include the amount of information a person consumes while at work.

If you’re still confused as to just how big a resource 3.6 zettabytes might be, the authors say that if the data were converted to text in books and then stacked as tightly as possible across the United States including Alaska, the pile would be 7ft high.

The study claims that information consumption, measured in bytes, increased at only 5.4 percent per year. It was the capacity to process data, which has been driven by Moore’s Law, that rose 30 percent per year. The authors say that one reason for the slow growth as measured in bytes is that color TV changed little over that period. However, with HDTV exploding into American homes, the number of equivalent bytes consumed will increase. Gaming will continue to be the single biggest contributor to data consumption.

The authors say that traditional media, radio and television, still dominate a person’s per day consumption, measuring 60 percent of the hours. More than three-quarters of a U.S. household’s information time is spent with noncomputer sources.

Key points:

• Americans spend a huge amount of time at home receiving information, an average of 11.8 hours per day.

• Bytes of information consumed by U.S. individuals have grown at 5.4 percent annually since 1980, far less than the growth rate of computer and information technology performance.

• Roughly 3.6 zettabytes (or 3600 exabytes) of information were consumed in American homes in 2008. Americans spend 41 percent of their information time watching television. Yet, TV accounts for less than 35 percent of information bytes consumed. (See the point above about HDTV.)

• Computer and video games account for 55 percent of all information bytes consumed in the home. The reason? Modern game consoles and PCs create huge streams of graphics, which means lots of bytes of data.

Data consumption is measured on a hourly basis, summarized in Figure 1 to the right. To reinforce the authors’ point that commuter games are huge data pipes, note Figure 2 to the left. As shown, computer games represent more than half of the data consumed by a person.

Television’s future

Broadcasters may be interested in the author’s viewpoint on television’s future:

“Two nascent developments might also cause significant dislocations: mobile television and video over the Internet. So far, mobile TV has low utilization and is very much a niche product. On the other hand, video by Internet is quite widespread, but as a complement rather than a substitute for conventional TV program delivery mechanisms. YouTube and its cousins have made a huge variety of novel and specialized video material available to anyone with a mediocre broadband connection. But at least in the U.S., the quality of video over the Internet is far below what is available by more 'conventional' means such as cable TV. The reason again is basically bandwidth constraints. A minimal standard definition TV signal requires 4Mb/s, and a 'medium' version of so-called high-definition TV requires double or triple that.

The result is that Internet videos are generally small, or grainy, or downloaded gradually rather than streamed. If and when a substantial number of Americans are able to receive streaming video at sustained speeds of roughly 10Mb/s and low latency, it may dramatically alter the way they receive video. Internet-based television, rather than being reserved for material where low quality is compensated for by a very wide selection (the 'long tail effect') might become common for mainstream programming as well.”

To paraphrase actress Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride!"


° TV in the home includes those viewing at least one minute (reach) within the measurement period. This includes live viewing plus any playback within the measurement period.

* TV in the home includes live usage plus any playback viewing within the measurement period. Time-shifted TV is playback primarily on a DVR but includes playback from VOD, DVD recorders and services like Start Over.

** Internet figures are from home and work. Hours: minutes for Internet and video use are based on the universe of persons who used the Internet/watched online video. All Internet figures are monthly averages over the course of the quarter. Due to enhancements to Nielsen NetView and Nielsen VideoCensus, Q2 2009 figures are based on June 2009 monthly

metrics only. Trending of previously-reported data with current results may show percentage differences attributable to these product enhancements and should only be compared directionally.

^ The average monthly unique users of mobile phones and mobile video in Q3 2008, Q2 2008 and Q3 2009, projected based on Nielsen telecom flowshare, surveys and historical CTIA projections of U.S. wireless subscriptions. Video user projection, time spent and composition data based on survey analysis of past 30-day use during the period. The mobile video

audience figures in this report include mobile phone users who access mobile video through any means (including mobile Web, subscription-based, downloads and applications). Projection of all subscribers is based on persons two-plus years of age. Projection of mobile video viewers and all other mobile video estimates based on subscribers 13-plus years of age.

^^ Nielsen’s mobile survey reports mobile video usage for those users 13 and older. Thus, 12-17 is T13-17 for all mobile data.

°° A65-plus base size too small to report mobile video hours: minutes.