TV Consumption Declining in One Important Demo Group, Rising in Another

Feb 9, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Television remains the country’s No. 1 pastime, with Americans averaging 4 hours, 39 minutes of TV consumption daily, reports Brian Stelter in The New York Times.

But Americans 12 to 34 years old are spending less time watching television in front of their TV sets, marking the pull on younger people of alternatives such as Web videos and social networks, the piece reports.

"Young people are still watching the same shows, but they are streaming them on computers and phones to a greater degree than their parents or grandparents do," Stelter writes.

Older people, especially those over 65, are watching historic levels of TV, possibly due to the influence of digital video recorders, which allow people to save up shows for later viewing, the story notes.

Yet when looking at viewing among people under 35, even including DVR usage, TV consumption has declined for three consecutive quarters, the piece says.

"Adults ages 25 to 34, for instance, watched about four and a half fewer hours of television in the third quarter of 2011 than at the same time in 2010 — the equivalent of about nine minutes a day. Viewers ages 12 to 17 also watched about nine fewer minutes a day. The demographic in between, those ages 18 to 24, watched about six fewer minutes a day," Stelter notes, citing data from Nielsen.

As previously reported, one culprit for Nickelodeon’s ratings decline may be Netflix, with youngsters opting to stream children’s shows online rather than to tune in to a TV set.

"To a child, television shows on the iPad are still television, but to Nielsen, it’s not: The company counts computer and mobile streams of shows separately, making it difficult for the television industry to get a handle on changing habits," Stelter notes.


  1. Another reason why continued focus on the A18-49 demo is antiquated and a waste of advertising dollars. Shift it to A2554 or even A35-64.
    That’s where TV is going to find their numbers.
    Or, heaven forbid, networks focus on total viewers. Shocking.

  2. Just wait until they do what radio currently does…. Keep shows that sell well. Neilsons don’t matter (or ARBitron, in radio’s case). I think some local shows do this already in TV as well.

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