More TV channels than ever … yet fewer are being watched.

Recently, some interesting research findings were released by Nielsen as part of its latest round of Total Audience Reporting.  The analysis shows that even as the number of stations received by U.S. TV households has increased to an average of ~192 in 2018 — up nearly 50% from a decade earlier — the number of channels actually watched, on average, has dropped to fewer than 7% of them.

Furthermore, stations watched has declined in absolute terms, not merely in terms of percentage share. The average number of stations tuned into by households as of 2018 (~13) was fewer than the number of TV channels households were tuning in to a decade earlier, when the average number was just over 17.

These findings underscore the continuing fragmentation of the linear TV ecosystem even as the number of alternative viewing choices increases, thanks to non-linear TV options such as OTT (Internet-direct) and VOD (video-on-demand) subscription services.

And here’s another takeaway from the research: These data underscore how dispensable most linear TV channels — not excluding ones affiliated with legacy networks — have become for most TV households.

What are your habits regarding watching linear TV these days? Do your practices mirror the Nielsen findings?  How have your habits changed over the past few years? Please share your experiences with other readers.

One thought on “More TV channels than ever … yet fewer are being watched.

  1. This is really an issue of tribal solidarity. Art, music, holidays, TV amount to a bonding adhesive which holds a culture together.

    In the 1950s there were few channels to watch. You could glance across the street at flickering shadows in a window and know your neighbor was experiencing exactly what you were.

    Today, we have a near-infinite choice of screens. Our individual likes are more easily met than before. But we are also out on a limb. Look across the street now at the shadows in a window? Why bother? Nobody is watching what you are!

    Like most everybody else, I have settled for about seven channels I routinely follow. But they probably aren’t the ones you watch. We are no longer one simple tribe held together with Elmer’s® Glue-All …

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