Arbitron Finds More People View TV Out-of-Home


More than one-third of TV viewers spend some part of their week watching TV at a location other than their own home, most typically in another person’s home, according to an Arbitron study released Wednesday.

During a presentation in Manhattan, Arbitron officials said their survey rebutted several preconceived notions about out-of-home viewing, such as: It mostly takes place in bars and restaurants; it is mostly done by men; it is mostly sports viewing; and it doesn’t constitute that much viewing time.

“We want to do away with the myth … People have misconceptions that it’s all a bunch of guys in bars watching sports,” said George Brady, senior manager of Arbitron Television Services.

The Arbitron study, conducted via phone calls to 2,500 people late last year, found that 35% of viewers age 12 and older had watched TV away from home during the past week. That’s a bigger number than the general perception on Madison Avenue.

Ad-agency and TV executives recently questioned by Arbitron via an online questionnaire believe only 15% of viewers watch TV away from home, said Laura Ivey, project lead for Arbitron’s Cable Custom Studies.

Of the Arbitron out-of-home survey respondents, 25% watched TV at someone else’s home; 11% watched at a restaurant or bar; 7% at work; 5% at a hotel/motel or vacation home; and 12% at any other location away from home.

Those who watch TV away from home spend an average of two hours and seven minutes doing such viewing in a typical day, according to the Arbitron study.

The survey also found that sports does not dominate out-of-home viewing. Nearly equal percentages watched a sporting event, 20%, as a local station’s newscast (19%) and an episode of a TV series (18%) away-from-home.

Arbitron also found that women are almost as likely as men to watch TV in some place other than their homes.

The phone survey confirmed the out-of-home viewing data that’s been collected by Arbitron’s Portable People Meter system in Houston, according to officials at the ratings service. But Arbitron commissioned the survey in order to collect qualitative data about who was watching TV out-of-home, according to Brady.

The survey determined that digital-video-recorder ownership doesn’t appear to influence out-of-home viewing in that equal numbers of viewers who own DVRs and those who don’t own them watch TV while away from home, namely 35%.

Cable and satellite subscriptions appear to have only a minimal impact on increased away-from-home viewing. Those who subscribe to non-digital cable and those who do not subscribe to cable or satellite were equally likely to have watched TV away from home in the last week, each 32%, while 37% of digital cable/satellite subscribers had watched TV away from home.

The study’s findings included the fact that heavy TV viewers are more likely to watch TV away from home and that people who watch TV away from home are less likely to turn away from commercials than when viewing at home.

And both PPM and survey data found that African Americans are more likely to watch TV away from home.