Viewers Still Watching Television At Record Levels


So much for viewers ditching the television set for the computer.

Nielsen today (Nov. 10) reported that Americans spent an all time high four hours and 49 minutes a day on average in front of the TV during the 2008-09 television season.

According to the report, the amount of TV viewing per individual was up four minutes from the prior TV season and up 20% from 10 years ago. The average household watched eight hours and 21 minutes a day on average, also at an all-time high.

Nielsen attributed the increase in television consumption to the increased number of television sets in the home – the average home has at least three sets — as well as the increased number of cable and broadcast channel outlets to choose from.

Also, Nielsen says DVR use is at an all time high as well: more than 30% of all households have at least one DVR, according to Nielsen.

But as television viewing has increased, so has the amount of viewing of video content on the web. ComScore recently reported that a record 168 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during the month of September, with nearly 26 billion videos viewed during the month.

Hulu, which offers full-length episodes of television shows from Fox, Disney, AETN, Scripps Inc. and NBC-Universal, drew 583 million views during the month, second only to Youtube, according to comScope.

Certainly an ominus sign for traditional television is that while the total amount of television watched increased during the 2008-09 season, Nielsen reported the time spend viewing shows during the advertiser-coveted 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. primetime slot was flat compared to the season past.

It’s clear that big screen television sets in the home continue to be the preferred choice of consumers to watch quality movie and television shows and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

What will be very interesting to see is whether the amount of television viewing can maintain its record pace during the current 2009-10 television season.