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What are we really watching?

by Darron McKnight | March 1st, 2019

As Laura mentioned last week, there is a big buzz in Media about the transformation of TV viewing. She gave definitions for acronyms and introduced us to the changing landscape of television. Today, we’ll start looking into who is watching what.

TV viewing is broken down into two segments: linear, which covers traditional TV as we’ve pretty much always known it, and CTV (Connected TV), which is viewing video content on a TV screen, but that content is provided via the internet through a device like an Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, game console or through the actual television set.

According to the latest available Nielsen data*, adults spent about 5 1/2 hours a day watching video in 2Q18. Not surprisingly, most of the time adults spent watching video is done on a TV screen. TV glass accounted for over 5 hours a day of video consumption. Computers, smart phones, and tablets accounted for about 20 minutes a day.

Let’s look a little deeper at how TV time was split up. What were people watching on their TV screens? According to Nielsen, 4 hours and 20 minutes of video watching was spent watching linear TV. 44 minutes was spent watching TV via CTV devices.

Personally, my family watches Netflix. I’m always hearing about what other people are watching on Netflix. Aren’t most people watching Netflix or some other streaming service? According to a report by Comcast, major streaming services make up only a fraction of total TV viewing time. Netflix was the leader among streaming services, but total time spent watching Netflix was only 4.4% of total TV viewing hours. YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon combined make up only 4.3% of total TV viewing hours. That means that in total, 8.7% of TV hours were spent with the top sVOD (subscription video on demand) providers. Were you expecting more? I was!

So the numbers say that most viewership is still watching traditional TV on an actual TV screen. People are using CTV devices, but viewership here is still not at the level of linear TV viewing. That is not to say that we should ignore this space, but the data says it’s still an emerging area. We will continue to research this area so that as adoption of these services increase, we are ready to adjust our strategy to keep your phone ringing.

*Nielsen Total Audience Report, 2Q18