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Nielsen: TV Still King

The era of the couch potato shows no sign of abating.

The Neilsen Company this week released its first report analyzing U.S. consumers’ video viewing habits over multiple platforms and concluded that despite the increased popularity of online media, traditional TV watching is still the most popular form of in-home entertainment.

“Commercial television is alive and well—growing 1 percent year over year—despite the rapid adoption of other platforms,” said John Burbank, chief marketing officer for The Nielsen Company.

In its survey, analyzing video usage across three screens—TV, Internet and mobile—Nielsen reported the average American continues to increase its TV watching, totaling an average 127 hours, 15 minutes per month. But consumers are also increasing their use of the Internet, up to an average of 26 hours, 26 minutes per month, an increase of nine percent from 2007. A smaller, but growing number of Internet and mobile phone users are watching video online (2 hours, 19 minutes per month) as well as using their cell phones to watch video (3 hours, 15 minutes per month).

As of May 2008, more than 65 percent of U.S. homes receive digital cable and satellite combined. These homes receive nearly 160 channels; in addition, 25 percent have DVRs and 35 percent have access to video on demand. This form of timeshifting represents less than five percent of total viewing, according to Neilsen.

Internet and mobile video is no longer a novelty. Two hundred twenty million Americans have Internet access at home and/or work and 73 percent, or 162 million went online in May; 119 million unique viewers viewed 7.5 billion video streams that same month. By the end of Q1, 2008, 91 million Americans (36 percent of all mobile phone subscribers in the United States), owned a video-capable phone. The increasing use of this medium is mostly attributable to viewers under the age of 24, according to Nielsen.

“Web video is changing the definition of the Internet for those under the age of 24,” Burbank said. “Those under 24 use the Internet less than older users but spend a greater percent of time viewing video. 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.”

The complete report can be obtained here.