Nielsen could re-define U.S. TV households


People watching TVMany U.S. homes now get TV programming through DVDs or services like Netflix or Apple TV, according to Nielsen’s new Q1 Cross-Platform Report. In fact, three-quarters of the estimated 5 million homes that don’t get TV signals over the airways or through cable, satellite or telecommunications companies have televisions anyway.

The shifts in the distribution of time spent across screens and devices demonstrate that more and more of us are taking advantage of the increased ability to determine what we watch, how we watch, and where we watch.

Even so, consumer video use and interaction by screen and device varies greatly by life-stage and lifestyle, by age, gender, and by ethnicity. No longer does one size fit all, and trends continue to emerge. Yet, the US consumer’s attention continues to lie in the quest to seek TV and TV-like professionally produced content. Consider Netflix which earlier this year expanded their offering not just by increasing their partnerships to re-air programming but also jumped into the game of producing and delivering original content.

Because of these changes, Nielsen is considering redefining what it considers a television household to include people who get service through Netflix or similar services instead of the traditional TV signals, Dounia Turrill, SVP/Client insights at Nielsen, told The AP.

RBR-TVBR asked Turrill where this is heading with clients right now: “The gradual decline in the number of TV households in the US has prompted the need for an open conversation around the definition of a TV household.  Nielsen is working with its clients on the evolution of the current definition of a TV household to account for the evolving media landscape and content delivery options available to the consumer.”

In Q1, the report said Americans spent nearly 35 hours per week watching video across screens and close to another 5 hours using the Internet on a computer. We spend 1 hour 38 minutes on gaming devices and among owners of gaming

devices that have the ability to stream video content (also referred to as “7th generation consoles”) the average time spent is 2 hours and 48 minutes with distinct differential viewing by demographic group. We also spend close to an hour and a half per week using DVD players.

Even though the average TV viewer is watching 6 fewer minutes per day of traditional television, viewing is growing. Some viewing is shifting to other devices, including to tablets. Currently more than 15% of US TV homes own one or more of this fast growing device category. Smartphones, with a penetration greater than that of DVRs, and gaming consoles are increasingly being used as vehicles for content delivery. Today, nearly 36 million mobile phone owners in the U.S. watch video on their phones.

If platform fragmentation has multiplied by type and device, video usage is also being redefined by the sheer volume of entertainment content available. The number of places you can access it and the means by which you choose to have it delivered to you continues to grow.

Related and interestingly, traditional TV Household penetration at 95.8% slowly continues to decline. Yet among those homes that are not considered traditional TV homes, 75% own a TV set. Whether connected to a gaming device, over-the-top device, DVD player or the Internet directly, the television set itself continues to be a centerpiece of the viewing experience delivering the video content that the US consumer seeks day in and day out.

Nielsen_Q12012 Cross-Platform Time Spent

One emerging category to watch remains the traditional gaming console manufacturers, who are claiming a stake in this evolving ecosystem. Not only have they strategically aligned themselves to provide video content and gaming interactivity through their consoles, they are capitalizing on an established footprint. These evolving entertainment hubs are enabling a new set of opportunities for entertainment consumption through media applications.

Though the average American consumer in TV households spends 14 minutes a day using gaming consoles, users of 7th generation consoles spend considerably more time. In fact, PS3 users are spending 36 minutes daily, Wii users 17 minutes, and Xbox360 users 32 minutes engaging with these devices.

Nielsen Cross-Platform Entertainment