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Nielsen: Viewers’ Attention Shifting from TV to Video


Young people continue to shift their viewing activities to digital video, according to a report released by Nielsen today. Since the second quarter of 2012, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 have increased their video viewing by 16 minutes a day and decreased TV watching by 10 minutes. But while millennials may be leading the charge to non-traditional view, it’s not solely a youth movement. 

According to Nielsen’s Q2 Cross-Platform Report, per capita TV watching among all age groups declined four hours a month in the past year, while watching videos on PCs and smartphones increased by more than four hours. Gross viewing time still largely favors TV—142 hours a month to 12 for digital video—but Nielsen sees video’s growth as a long-term trend. 

“It may have started with millennials, but the gap is narrowing between their viewing habits and those of older consumers,” says Dounia Turrill, Nielsen SVP of Insights. “They are showing growth in their adoption of smartphones and so viewing video content is becoming easier for everybody.” 

Some of the disparities in viewing habits among age groups might be explained by lifestyle differences. People aged 35-49, who are more likely to be occupied with raising young children, watch 40 fewer hours of television a month than Americans aged 50-64. Their Internet video viewing habits, meanwhile, are not all that far apart; the younger group logs 12 hours a month to eight and a half hours for the older group. 

More and better content is playing a factor in video’s growing popularity, according to Turill. “Whether it’s on the smartphone or the computer, there is increased video content and longer form content,” she says. 

But it appears that a select group is consuming that long-form content, according to the Nielsen report. An average user in the top quintile watched 6 hours and 42 minutes of video a month in Q2, while the next highest segment watched only 1 hour and 10 minutes. Still, video viewing increased among all five groupings.

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