Despite digital uptake, Americans still spend most viewing time with traditional TV

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 04-05-2012

Couch potatoism persists in the land of the free: The average American watches nearly five hours of video each day, 98% of which they watch on a traditional TV set, according to the Nielsen Cross-Platform Report.

In the past year, the number of homes with an HDTV grew by more than 8 million to 80.2 million. And Traditional—live and timeshifted—TV viewing remains the primary role of the TV, accounting for more than 33 hours per week despite a decline one half of one per cent in time spent, compared to Q4 2010. To fill that slight gap, consumers are finding new ways to use their TVs.

"The fact remains that Americans are not turning off," researchers said. "They are shifting to new technologies and devices that make it easier for them to watch the video they want, whenever and wherever they want."

Gaming consoles for instance have become strategically positioned as a secondary gateway to TV content, and can now be found in 45% of TV homes, an increase of 3% over last year.

"With Netflix and other streaming apps, Blu-ray players, social gaming and point of purchase seamlessly integrated into game consoles, it is no surprise that consumers are relying on their consoles to perform double (and triple) duty," Nielsen noted. "These new activities are adding up and contributing to the growth of content consumption. Interestingly, households without children are leading the way in new game console adoption, demonstrating that game consoles are appealing to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes."

Similarly, smartphones are increasingly becoming portable TVs. In fact, 33.5 million mobile phone owners now watch video on their phones—an increase of a full 35.7% since last year. Nielsen noted, however, that this activity is largely complementary to traditional TV viewing rather than acting as a replacement.