Young people increasingly view traditional TV and DVRs as things their parents and grandparents use. They still watch a lot on television, but they mostly stream their shows.
Traditional TV use continues to plummet among the young
According to Nielsen’s Q2 2017 Total Audience Report, traditional television viewing continued its broad decline. The average American watched 6% less live plus timeshifted television in Q2 2017 than they did in Q2 2016 and 10% less than in 2014. Every age group cut their viewing, with the biggest declines coming from young TV viewers. The average 12-to-17-year-old watched 18% less than last year and 38% less than in 2014. Teenagers now watch just 1 hour and 41 minutes per day.
The smallest losses were seen in the oldest viewers. Those over 65-years-old watched 6 hours and 52 minutes per day of traditional television in Q2 2017, just 5 minutes less per day than last year.
DVR usage up in the old, down in the young
Overall, timeshifted viewing (DVR and pay TV catch-up VOD) increased 4% year-over-year (YoY.) However, there are three significant things to note about this usage:
- Timeshifted viewing is just 12% of overall traditional TV viewing
- All the increase in usage came from the over-50s, particularly the over-65s
- The overall increase was a meager 1 minute per day, while live+timeshifted viewing fell 15 minutes per day.
Increasingly, the DVR is becoming an “old people’s thing.” Those aged between 12 and 24 years’ old watch timeshifted television, on average, 11 minutes per day. They watch video on their smartphones for longer. People over-50 watch nearly 4-times as much timeshifted television as the young.
Connected TV viewing picking up the slack
Nielsen says that 59% of TV households now have a TV connected device. 39.4 million homes have a game console, 36.6 million have a smart TV, and 30.6 million have a multimedia device (like a Roku or Apple TV.) 6.5 million have all three devices, and 12.2 million have a smart TV and/or a multimedia device.
Of those homes with a connected TV device, around 80% have enabled it so that they can stream video to the television. Teenagers that watch video on connected TV devices watch for 3 hours and 26 minutes per day, according to Nielsen. Millennials watch slightly less, at 3 hours and 9 minutes per day. This data suggests that young people are not watching less television at all. They are just spending most of their television time watching streamed video, not traditional TV.
Smartphone viewing growing strongly
Those watching video on a smartphone increased 5% YoY, to reach 69% of the population. Regarding reach, the smartphone is now second only to the television.
Though the amount people watch on the small screen remains small compared to the television, it is growing by leaps and bounds. Adult smartphone video viewers increased time watching 89% YoY, to 9.4 minutes per day. The biggest increases in usage came from millennials. Young millennials (18 to 24) watched 14-and-a-half minutes per day, 61% higher than last year. Old millennials (25-34) increased viewing 113% YoY, to reach 9-and-a-half minutes per day.
Even those over 65 increased viewing by 90%, though they are still only watching for 3.6 minutes per day.
Why it matters
Young TV viewers continue to flee traditional television.
They continue to watch on TV but consumer mostly streamed content.
Smartphone video is watched more by young people than the DVR or pay TV VOD.