Nielsen Says TV Still Leading In Viewership, Ad Spend

Posted on 2014-05-12 by Karl Greenberg

Just in time for the TV upfront tussle, Nielsen has released the Advertising and Audiences Report. Guess what: people still watch TV. A lot of it. And advertisers haven't cut back on spending against it. According to Nielsen’s Cross Platform Report based on third-quarter 2013 data, viewers spent, on average, 55.5 hours watching traditional TV versus nearly 15 hours on time-shifted TV; 34 hours using the mobile Web or an app on a smartphone; and about 28 hours via internet on a computer in the quarter last year. 

And while it's on the rise, video viewing on a multimedia device accounts for only an hour and 12 minutes per month, per Nielsen’s report on mobile connected devices, which polled some 8,000 mobile device users last year.  

During recent years the number of channels has grown along with the number of video channels on alternative screens. But fragmentation withal, Nielsen found that people stick to a fairly narrow range of viewing. Although the number of channels viewers can receive has grown every year -- from about 129 in 2008 to almost 190 last year -- the average number of channels people actually watch has remained pretty stable at around 17.

But clutter has also increased. Overall spend was $78 billion last year, with dramas commanding the biggest pull. Fourteen commercials aired during each hour of network TV programming last year, per Nielsen Ad*Views. 

If viewers were sticking with network, that would be about 70 ads per day, assuming Nielsen's assertion that on average people watch TV for five hours per day (and assuming all of those hours were network.) But when viewers are paying more attention to a program they will also pay more to the ads that air in that program, per the firm.

Nielsen also reports that second-screening isn't necessarily a fragmenting activity versus TV. Per the study, about 41% of people use tablets and smartphones to look up information about the characters they are seeing. But 29% are using email and text  and 18% are reading social media comments.

Nielsen says its social media research division found that 36 million people sent 990 million tweets about TV last year and that the Twitter TV audience for an episode is 50 times bigger than the number of authors generating the tweets.But they don't tweet during commercials. Between August and October last year, per Nielsen, 5.5 million people tweeted both about brands and TV.

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