Nielsen: U.S. Adults Spend Majority of Waking Hours Interacting With Media

NEW YORK—The average adult in the United States spends 11 hours and 27 minutes per day interacting with media across TV, TV-connected devices, radio, computers and mobile devices, according to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report (Q1, 2019).

This is an increase of 21 minutes since Q1 2018, but while that time comprises nearly half of the day, some simultaneous usage does occur across devices (e.g. texting while watching TV, etc.), Nielsen added.

Overall video consumption on TV’s, computers and mobile devices among U.S. adults averages 5 hours and 46 minutes a day, down 11 minutes from a year ago. Nielsen says this is mainly due to the lack of marquee events like the Winter Olympics.

When it comes to audience reach, traditional linear and time-shifted TV and radio are still the champs, with total TV viewership reaching 86% of U.S. adults and radio reaching 92%.

Connected TVs are a particular growth area for media consumption with viewing increasing 8 minutes daily through either smart TVs or TVs connected with streaming devices. Video viewing on smartphones and tablets grew an average of 5 minutes per day.

The biggest demographic consumer of media is adults 50-64, who spend an average 12 hours and 51 minutes per day. The greatest growth in media consumption was among millennials (18-34), who increased their consumption an average 31 minutes per day across all media, compared to the same period in 2018. This age group spends an average of 1 hour and 22 minutes on TV-connected devices, more than any other age group.

Pay-TV continues to lose subscribers; Nielsen reported the percentage of households with traditional pay-TV in Q1 was down nearly 5 percentage points to 72.9% in June, compared to 77.5% in Q1 June 2018. Virtual MVPDs (Youtube TV, Hulu, Sling TV, etc.) are now streaming into 5.2% of U.S. homes, up from 3.3% in 2018 and over the air homes grew to 13.3% from 13% while broadband only homes grew from 6.2% to 8.5% in 2019.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.