TV viewing: More choices than ever … but for viewers it’s a big “so what.”

tmc

In theory, people love to have choices. But in practice, does having many choices always matter?

In the world of TV viewing, the answer seems to be … not so much.

New findings from Nielsen’s Total Audience Report finds that the average number of channels received by American viewers of TV is just over 200. But on average, people view fewer than 20 different TV channels during the course of a month.

That means that people are typically  watching just 10% of the channels available to them.

[For purposes of the Nielsen report, “TV viewing” is defined as watching TV live or via DVR/time-shifted viewing.]

Trends shifting over time.

In a related report published by Marketing Charts, traditional TV viewing has declined in nearly every age group over the past five years.

Here’s how those stats break down:

  • Ages 12-17: Weekly TV viewing is down ~36% over the past five years
  • Ages 18-24: Down ~38%
  • Ages 25-34: Down ~26%
  • Ages 35-49: Down ~12%
  • Ages 50-64: Down ~2%
  • Ages 65+: Up ~5%

Clearly, younger generations are finding outlets for their leisure time other than traditional TV viewing. What’s more, time-shifted viewing remains only a small fraction of all TV viewing — no better than 90/10 split in favor of live TV in any of the six age categories tested.

So we have a combination of tradition asserting itself – people continuing to watch relatively few TV channels – along with some changing behaviors that promise to continue to upend the traditional TV industry.

More findings from the new Nielsen and Marketing Charts reports can be accessed here and here.

One thought on “TV viewing: More choices than ever … but for viewers it’s a big “so what.”

  1. We’re entering a period where we tailor precisely every input into our lives.

    Cable TV — never letting people have service for just the channels they wanted — always generated a huge amount of resentment. “Bundling” might have seemed efficient at one time, but no longer.

    Fifty years ago, you only had to look across the street to know from shadows in the window which of four or five channels was being watched. Today, with 700+, you have no idea what the neighbors are watching. More likely, you see them hunched over a phone or tablet — and have no idea what they are doing.

    The “age of the common man” is over. One size does not fit all …

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