Half Of Americans Watch Online Video: Nielsen

Internet video streaming is officially mainstream -- with 48% of U.S. consumers now watching some video online -- but TV remains the great American pastime, according to Nielsen's quarterly report on media consumption.

Monthly time spent watching traditional TV in the second quarter of 2011 climbed 1.9%, to 146 hours and 20 minutes, a year-over-year increase of 2 hours and 43 minutes of monthly viewing, according to the Nielsen Cross-Platform Report for Q2 2011.

By contrast, time spent watching video on the Internet was 4 hours and 26 minutes per month on average, up 15% from a year ago -- just 3% of the time parked in front of the TV.

And Americans spend more than four times watching time-shifted TV -- on DVRs and video-on-demand -- than watching online video, according to the Nielsen study.

Compared with the second quarter of 2010, time-shifted TV viewing rose 11% among all TV homes, primarily the result of increased DVR penetration. The number of TV households with a DVR increased to 39% (up nearly 13% year-over-year). Over the past two years, time-shifted TV viewing per month has jumped 31%, Nielsen said.

Broadband penetration continued to grow, with households that have both pay-TV and broadband increase 6.6% year-over-year. About 72% of U.S. TV homes pay for both a cable, satellite or telco TV subscription as well as broadband Internet, according to Nielsen.

Cable's share 55.4% of TV households -- up from 53.4% a year ago -- while telcos' share was 5.6% (down from 6.9% last year) and satellite TV represented 29.7% (down from 30.5% last year), based on Nielsen's National People Meter panel.

Broadcast-only homes represent 9.3% of TV households. The number of broadcast-only homes in the second quarter was 11.1 million, up slightly from 10.9 million a year ago, Nielsen found.

Meanwhile, Internet video streaming is still concentrated among a group of hard-core users: 83% of all streaming taking place among the top 20% of consumers who watch online video. The heaviest online-video users watch an average of 18.9 streams per day, amounting to 58.7 minutes. The next quintile watches 2.6 streams on average for 39 minutes daily.

Consumers in the East South Central region (Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama) spend the most time watching video on the Internet, according to Nielsen.

In other local data points, Nielsen found that consumers in the South spend the most time watching TV, with New Orleans taking the top spot as the city that watches the most primetime TV.

Baltimore has the highest videogame console penetration, and Dallas has the highest DVR penetration. Boston households have the highest Internet-enabled computer penetration, according to Nielsen, while Miamians are most likely to have a mobile phone.

Nielsen's Cross-Platform Report for Q2 2011 is available here (registration required): www.nielsen.com/crossplatform.