TV reigns, but online, mobile on the rise

Good old-fashioned television viewing isn’t going anywhere, according to Nielsen’s Three Screens report put out this week. The quarterly study found that Americans watch an average of 153 hours of TV each month, up 1.2% from last year. More impressive, however, is the fact that mobile TV and video viewing jumped up 50% year-over-year, while online video has grew 13%.

The growth in TV viewing across all screens coincided with an increase in the length of viewing (we’re in a recession – what else can we do?). The 131 million Americans who watched video on the Internet spent about 3 hours glued to the PC each month – at home, as well as at work. The 13.4 million Americans watching on their mobile phones spent an average of 3.5 hours each month (with teens logging 6.5 hours each month).

Nielsen attributed the growth in online video to strong marketing and large media events, such as the Presidential inauguration, Super Bowl and March Madness. And, with broadband levels increasing in the U.S. causing consumers to upgrade their PCs, the online video watching will only continue to grow, it concluded. While mobile viewing picked up, most of that too was done for free over the mobile Web as subscription services continue to struggle. Still, the biggest screen remains the dominant choice for Americans who watch video with almost 99% of the video watched in the U.S. done on the TV.

Coach potatoes may not be going anywhere, but most pay TV operators have realized that they need to address online video in some fashion. They still are not sure what the proper approach is, however, according to The Diffusion Group’s latest white paper. Pay TV operators are undecided if over-the-top video is a friend or foe, but TDG advises that either way, they may want to keep their friends close and their enemies closer.

“In reality, it is both, meaning that pay TV operators must act both defensively to protect themselves from emerging over-the-top video competition, and offensively to exploit their content relationships and build a branded presence in web video delivery,” wrote Colin Dixon, broadband media practice manager in the report.

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