Collins | Connecting With Today’s & Tomorrow’s Viewers

Broadcaster adoption of the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard will allow stations to reach the growing number of portable media devices that are garnering more of the time Americans spend consuming media.

The launch of the fall 2018 TV season is nearly upon us. What makes this year a little different are the ongoing changes in where, and how, consumers will be accessing this content.

Just about 10 years ago, in January 2009, the big news in Nielsen’s TV viewership report was that the company was seeing a 14% year-over-year increase in video content viewed on smartphones — about 10.3 million U.S. mobile phone subscribers. As of first quarter 2018, Nielsen’s Total Audience Report counts four of five U.S. adults as smartphone owners and reports the average adult 18+ watches 10 minutes of video on a smartphone daily.

Nielsen’s latest report is based on analysis of U.S. household media consumption in the first quarter of this year. The company used its new cross-platform audience measurement capabilities to create a more complete picture of U.S. media consumption than it had been able to offer in the past.

At first glance, the findings are not particularly surprising. What is important however, are the underlying consumer trends that should inform future business models for TV stations, networks and other media businesses in 2019 and beyond.

More Time With Media, Less Time With TV

Nielsen’s 1Q 2018 analysis found that the time American’s are spending with media was up 19 minutes over the prior quarter and amounted to 11 hours per day. The increase was driven by spending more time on TV-connected devices (+5 minutes) and with digital platforms (+13 minutes).


On a weekly basis, adults 18 and older watch more than 38 hours of television per week (38.46 hours), including 4.13 hours of time-shifted TV viewing. Viewers in the 18-34 category watched the least amount of TV, at 24.46 hours per week.

Multichannel Households Remain Dominant

Despite several years of cord-cutting and cord-shaving, the number of multichannel households in the U.S. remains quite strong, at 81%. However, that statistic includes a growing number of homes subscribing to a virtual multichannel programming distributor (vMPVD), which Nielsen estimates to represent 3% of all TV households.

Nielsen’s 1Q report calculates the number of OTA (over-the-air) TV households in 1Q at a total 13% of all TV households. That figure is lower than an estimate by market researcher Parks Associates, which found usage of digital antennas reached 20% near the end of 2017, up from 16% in early 2015. Both research firms agree on the growing usage of broadband internet as a means of obtaining TV programming, with Nielsen reporting that nearly two-thirds of all TV households have devices capable of streaming content to their TVs.

America’s Connected Consumer  

In examining the devices that can be used for streaming video to TVs, the Nielsen report says: “The types of TV-connected devices used, and the amount of time spent on each differs greatly by demographic.” For example, gaming consoles are the most popular among teens and 18-34-year-olds, who spend 1.15 hours per day on connected devices while adults 35-49 are more likely to have one or more streaming media devices and adults 50+ have a higher percentage of streaming on a smart TV.

Demographics also factor into how much one of these devices is used for consuming media of one form or another. As the Nielsen report notes, adults aged 18-34 are spending 150% more time per day with TV-connected devices as compared to the 50-64 age category.

Smartphones And Other Portable Media Devices

Broadcaster adoption of the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard will allow stations to reach the growing number of portable media devices that are garnering more of the time Americans spend consuming media. Nielsen reports that 90% of households had one or more smartphones in March of this year, up from 87% in March of 2017. The number of tablets rose slightly, up to 64% from 63% in the prior year.

In analyzing time spent on these devices, Nielsen found the average adult spends more than16½ hours per week engaging with a smartphone to use an app or access the internet, with slightly higher times for adults in the 18-34 (17.58 hours) and 35-49 (19.22 hours) age categories. More than one hour per week was spent with a video-focused application, with 18-34-year-olds spending considerably more time with video (1.45 hours).

Video Viewing In A Non-Television Household

Another potential audience for video programing delivered using ATSC 3.0 will be the four million American homes (4% of U.S. households) that Nielsen classifies as non-television households. This classification means they either do not have a TV set at all, or do not have a set that is connected to either cable, satellite, an off-air antenna or the internet.

According to Nielsen’s market data, as many as eight in 10 of these non-television households are watching video programming. When asked where they watch TV programming, 27% said they use their computer, 10% use their smartphones and 6% use a tablet. In fact, approximately 60% of non-TV households report having access to the internet, enabling them to stream video programming.

As we have seen with digital radio, built-in chips and external devices such as dongles can offer ways to reach digital media devices with video programming. This will be particularly true for programming delivered using the 3.0 standard. With many non-television households citing cost as the reason they choose not to have a traditional TV set, offering valuable video programming like local news and weather via 3.0 may represent a good way to serve these consumers.

Media Outlook 2019

Peter Katsingris, SVP of audience insights at Nielsen, will be exploring these and other research findings at next week’s Media Outlook 2019 seminar. Scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Sept. 12, in midtown Manhattan, the seminar will open with a keynote address by Byron Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone’s Private Wealth Solutions Group. Wien will address “The Market Implications of Global Disarray.”

Organized by Media Financial Management Association (MFM), the seminar will also feature a session entitled The Blockchain Wave: What Might this Technology do for — and to — the Media Industry. Moderated by Richard Taub, managing director of the Pequan Group, the session’s panelists are Andrew Levine, content director of Steemit and a member of the team that developed the Steemit Blockchain, a tool for incentivizing social media contributions; Dr. Peter McAliney, executive director of continuing and professional education at Montclair State University (MSU) and 30-year veteran in implementing new technologies at private sector organizations, and Prakash Santhana, managing director of Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics and co-leader of Deloitte’s blockchain and cryptocurrency community.

MFM has also asked David M. Wissert, partner and general counsel with Lowenstein Sandler LLP, and chair of the law firm’s employment practice, to lead a session on the impact of the #MeToo movement and other employee law issues. With several media companies grappling with the consequences of intolerable behavior by their executives and other persons of authority, Wissert’s session will outline how media got into its current predicament and discuss the corporate policies and training programs that can lead to a positive culture where employees can contribute and thrive.

More information about the seminar may be found online at It’s not too late to register to join us for the event. As the data from Nielsen’s Total Audience Report reminds us, connecting with today’s TV viewer requires remaining in step with the trends that are going to affect a station’s audience delivery and monetization capabilities in the years ahead.

Mary M. Collins is president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association and its BCCA subsidiary, the media industry’s credit association. She can be reached at [email protected] and via the association’s LinkedInTwitter or Facebook sites.

Comments (2)

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2018bstyrevr says:

September 7, 2018 at 7:40 am

Its too late~~~~~

[email protected] says:

September 7, 2018 at 10:09 am

As marketing manager I know how it’s important to connect with viewers, customers etc… We do the same things. When people decided to buy ios app reviews, we always stan in contact with them, until the results, which we presented them. So, it’s an important part of our work!

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