American viewers watch less live TV, while more households have access to streaming video-on-demand services like Netflix, according to a first look at Nielsen’s newly released third-quarter Total Audience report.
The trends are the result of the increasing availability of programming on an array of digital devices, not all of which are included in the ratings used by the TV industry, including commercial ratings used to sell advertising time.
That’s why Nielsen is in the process of introducing Total Audience Measurement, which it says will include as much viewing on as many devices as possible.
The new report includes a number of interesting findings. For one thing, penetration of streaming video-on-demand — largely cited for the decline in traditional TV viewing — is about to eclipse penetration of digital video recorders, the devices blamed for hurting advertising by making commercials easy to skip. SVOD penetration rose to 46% from 40%. DVR penetration was flat at 49%.
“We're reaching sort of a crossing point for those numbers,” Glenn Enoch, Nielsen senior VP, audience insights, said.
Live viewing per day among adults 18 years or older was 4 hours, 7 minutes, down 2% from 4 hours,13 minutes in the third quarter of 2014 and 4 hours, 27 minutes two years earlier. Delayed viewing was unchanged at 28 minutes per day. It was 26 minutes per day two years ago. Use of multimedia devices doubled to 10 minutes during the quarter from 5 minutes a year ago and 3 minutes two years ago.
But Enoch said that the delayed viewing figure does not yet include all of the VOD viewing of traditional TV shows enabled by cable operators, telcos and satellite services. Those providers report that VOD usage is growing fast.
Nielsen does not yet measure Netflix and the other streaming video services specifically, but it found that users of multimedia devices were spending more time with them. They used multimedia devices for 49 minutes per day in the quarter, compared to 43 minutes in Q3 2014 and 39 minutes in Q3 2013. Time spent using apps on smartphones also rose to 1 hour, 37 minutes from 1 hour, 33 minutes in Q3 2014.
Enoch also noted that device usage varies by income level.
Less than a third -- 29% -- of households with incomes of $25,000 or less have DVRs, while three quarters -- 76% -- of households with incomes of $75,000 and up have one. The story is similar with enabled smart TVs: only 9% of those in the $25,000 and lower bracket have them, while 29% of those in the more affluent bracket own them. Multimedia devices are in 12% of the lower-income homes and 34% of more affluent homes.
The Nielsen report put the number of pay TV homes at 100 million, down from 101 million a year ago. Wired cable homes fell to 52.3 million from 53.6 million a year ago, while telcos picked up 135,000 subscribers for a total of 13.5 million. Satellite, with 34.6 million subs, showed a small decline.
The number of broadcast-only households in the quarter rose to 12.8 million from 12.2 million last year, and the number of households with broadband only rose to 3.6 million from 2.8 million.
Read more at broadcastingcable.com.