How much television do you watch?

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We watch a lot of television. And, I’m talking about traditional, old-school television watching – not catching shows and movies online or on your phone.

We watch a lot of television. And, I’m talking about traditional, old-school television watching – not catching shows and movies online or on your phone. The average American continues to watch a little more than 143 hours of TV a month – about the same as we watched this time last year. But, we – African Americans – lead the pack, logging in an average of 199 hours and 6 minutes a month in front of the tube. (And, I admit it. I am right in there with the rest of y’all. On any given Saturday, I probably spend way too much time decompressing in front of HGTV and Real Housewives of Atlanta after a hectic week. ) Whites follow with 138 hours and 56 minutes a month; then Hispanics with an average of 126 hours and 8 minutes of TV viewing monthly. Asian Americans spend the least amount of time watching television: 92 hours and 6 minutes.

This is according to the latest State of the Media report compiled by my employer, the Nielsen Company. Nielsen is the largest marketing research company in the world. We track, measure and analyze trends and consumer behavior here and around the globe. Back to that TV viewing. Allow me to share with you the methodology. The State of the Media report viewing estimates are based on people in 292 million households. Hopefully the results I’ve just shared dispel the long-held misconception that Nielsen surveys do not include Blacks. Because Nielsen’s “ratings household” selection process is done by addresses provided by the Census Bureau, the metered television measurement sample is representative of our diverse population. Nielsen is committed to that inclusion because it is the only way to provide a true and accurate representation. It doesn’t matter how much or how little TV you watch – as long as you have a set (and, according to a previous Nielsen Audience Report, we African Americans also tend to have more TVs in our homes than other households), you have an equal chance of being randomly selected.

  • Women apparently watch more television than men, 54 percent versus 46 percent. (I know ladies you think during football and basketball season men’s viewing is higher…huh? We just finished Thanksgiving – and what man in America wasn’t glued to a football game before (almost during) and after dinner? You know who you are!
  • Looking at the age demographic, people over 65 watch the most television, about 196 hours and 21 minutes per month. Viewing increases with each older age group.
  • As in previous surveys, teenagers (12-17 year olds) continue to spend the least amount of time watching TV, approximately 103 hours and 46 minutes a month.
  • The use of DVRs (digital video recorders) continues to grow in popularity, with more than a third of all homes being equipped with them. In those DVR homes, the average person watched 24 hours and 27 minutes in monthly playback viewing. Now that I’ve got the hang of it (thanks to my nine year- old techno genius nephew), I love being able to watch my shows on my schedule. And, like you, sometimes I skip through commercials. But I’ve found that if a commercial is really good and jumps out at me, I watch it anyway, and sometimes play it repeatedly. Admit it; you have your favorite commercials, too!
  • Viewers in the 25-34 age bracket watched the most television by DVR playback, 29 1/2 hours per month.
  • In TV homes across the board, timeshifting (stopping, playing back at our convenience) has experienced double digit growth for the second year in a row. Video-On-Demand is another technology supporting the increasing popularity of timeshifting; as are services like Start Over.
  • As you might expect, TV viewing patterns in the U.S. tend to be seasonal. We really do tend to cozy up and watch more television in the winter months; with viewership declining in the summer months. This would explain network re-runs when the weather is warm. During the summer months, many of us are more apt to be out, more active. And, summer is traditional vacation time.

See how much power and influence you have? Your viewing habits make programmers and advertisers take notice and plan accordingly. If you’d like to learn more about how Nielsen measures and includes households in our samples, please visit www.nielsen.com. Because, knowledge is always power.

Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations for The Nielsen Company.

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