Nielsen’s X-Platform Report: The Rise of Game Console Content Delivery

NEW YORK: The average American watched around five hours of video a day in the last three months of 2011; 98 percent—on a traditional TV set.

“Although this ratio is less than it was just a few years ago, and continues to change, the fact remains that Americans are not turning off,” Nielsen’s latest cross-platform report says. “They are shifting to new technologies and devices that make it easier for them to watch the content they want whenever and wherever is most convenient for them. As such, the definition of the traditional TV home will evolve.”

That said, more than 8 million homes acquired an HDTV set in the last year, bringing the total number of households with an HDTV set to 80.2 million. Nielsen said the numbers indicate TV remains the dominant platform for watching video content. Traditional live and time-shifted viewing accounted for nearly 34 hours a week (out of 35) in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The way content is delivered, however, is changing. Nielsen found that two-thirds of game consoles in homes are now connected to the Internet, creating a new content delivery “conduit” for TV sets. It said more than half of Netflix users watch on their TVs through a game console or other streaming device.

The game-console effect is not yet displacing cable or satellite as the primary source of subscription TV content.

“Despite shifts between those three, it will take major industry changes or consumer behavior swings to affect the subscription model anytime soon,” Nielsen’s report said. “That being said, game consoles have increasingly more access to content—whether paid or free—and a greater penetration within TV homes than even the DVR, underscoring the potential audience for content providers on this platform.”

While traditional live TV viewing still rules, Nielsen said it declined by less than 2 percent during 4Q11 after years of consistent growth. Nielsen said time-shifted viewing made up for the bulk of the decline.

The report said that around 33.5 million mobile phone users now watch video on the devices—up nearly 36 percent from 4Q10. However, the time spent doing so remains modest: just 8 minutes a week. Online viewing accounted for around 30 minutes a week.

Broadcast-only homes declined from 11.1 million in 4Q10 to 11 million in 4Q11. Wired cable homes fell by nearly 3 million to 60.5 million. Satellite held steady, while telcoTV homes grew from 7.3 million to 8.5 million. Broadcast-only homes with broadband grew from 4.5 million to 5.1 million.
~Deborah D. McAdams