TV reigns, but smartphone streaming is rising fast: Nielsen

The study also found that SVOD has become just as popular as DVR, while Hispanic Americans use smartphones far more than the national average.
June 28, 2016

With the rise of SVODs, OTTs and mobile video apps like go90 — not to mention the 800-pound gorilla in the room, YouTube — it’s easy to forget that the majority of Americans still enjoy a sit in front of the old-fashioned tube.

Nielsen’s total audience report for Q1 2016, which provides insight into how adults around the country consume media, was released June 27.

The big winners? Radio and television, with 240 million and 226 million monthly users, respectively.

But smartphone video consumption is on the rise, with more monthly viewers than on personal desktop computers. An average of 191 million people per month consumed media on a smartphone, while 162 million people used a desktop computer.

While two years ago, people spent slightly less time on a smartphone per day than on desktop (47 minutes per day versus 49 minutes). Now they spend more than 90 minutes a day streaming on their phones, compared to 58 minutes on desktop. Live TV still sees more than four hours of consumption per day, with a slight decrease over the past two years.

The data fits with what other industry watchers have been saying, including Needham & Company managing director Laura Martin who told the crowd at the recent Stream Market conference that programming for desktop is passé. In fact, her words were more blunt than that: “It’s dying,” said Martin.

The Nielsen report also found that the number of households paying for SVOD services was climbing, and is now on-par with direct video recording (DVR), which has remained relatively the same at 50% penetration since 2014. SVODs, meanwhile, have risen from 41% in 2014 to 50% this year.

Among the year’s losers were DVD and video game consoles, which both saw decreases in household use since 2015, with DVD dipping by 3% and game consoles by 4%. While those losses were small, the gains were big, particularly among SVOD (19%) tablets (17%) and smart TVs (43%). Smartphones saw a 10% increase, but the devices were already relatively high on that scale.

Nielsen also divided its data by ethnicity, bringing forth data on African, Asian and Hispanic Americans and their consumption habits. Hispanic and Asian Americans both watch significantly less television than the national average (three hours and 32 minutes per day for Hispanic Americans, two hours and 12 minutes per day for Asian Americans). In the case of Hispanic Americans — a market many media cos have undoubtedly been aiming to tap  — significantly more time is spent on smartphones than the national average, clocking in at two hours and three minutes per day (the national average clocking in at 1:39).

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