Report: Streaming Video Up, Live TV Down in Q2

Winds of change continued to blow through the TV business in the second quarter, with live TV viewing dropping as the number of homes with broadband only and those with streaming video subscriptions rose.

According to Nielsen’s second-quarter Total Audience report, the number of homes with pay-TV subscriptions—a crucial number for the industry—is down 1.2% to 100.4 million from 101.6 million a year ago. The number of broadband only homes rose 52% to 3.3 million from 2.2 million.

Media company stocks have been diving because investors are concerned that subscription revenues are threatened by cord cutters and skinny bundles. Top executives from media companies, including Philippe Dauman of Viacom, have mostly been downplaying the threat the decline poses.

Meanwhile, the share of homes with subscription video on demand rose 18% to 45% in the second quarter of 2015 from 38% in the second quarter a year ago. The number of homes with enabled smart TVs rose to 18% from 11%.

It appears to be tricky figuring out the degree to which streaming video is replacing traditional TV viewing. The report said that usage of digital video is up 19% from a year ago. The biggest increase in usage is overnight and in the early morning. Between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. usage increased 38%. 

In the homes with the most streaming activity in Nielsen’s cross-platform sample, TV viewing was above average. The 20% of homes with the most streaming people spend an average of 24.4 minutes a day streaming on a PC. They spend 248.4 minutes watching TV. In all homes, the average is 2.4 minutes spent streaming on a PC and 228.1 minutes watching TV.

At the same time, the people who watch the most TV also do an above average amount of streaming on PC. The top 20% of TV viewers watch 608.9 minutes per day and spend 2.7 minutes streaming. That’s exceeded only by the 20% of people who watch the least TV and non-television viewers.

The amount of smartphone video viewing is up sharply to 2 hours and 4 seconds from 1:41 per month. The number of people consuming video on phone is up to 132.3 million from 114.4 million. The heaviest group of phone video viewers consume 8 hours and 27 minutes per month, up from 6 hours and 43 minutes a year ago.

Nielsen said the amount of time adults spent with live TV fell to 4 hours and 11 minutes in the second quarter from 4:19 a year ago. It was 4:29 in 2013. Time shifted TV viewing was steady at 29 minutes.

Usage of apps or the web on a smart phone rose to 1 hour and six minutes from 56 minutes a year ago.  Usage of multimedia devices was up to 9 minutes from 5 minutes last year. Among the people who watch live TV, time spent viewing live TV was down to 4 hours and 30 minutes from 4:36 a year ago. Among time-shifters, the time spent watching time shifted TV was down slightly to 49 minutes from 50 minutes a year ago. Time spent using a multimedia device by users of multimedia devices was up to 48 minutes from 42 minutes and the time spent using apps and viewing the web on a phone was up to 1:30 from 1:25.

Showing both how much time the average person uses a device and how much time users of those devices spend with them is new for Nielsen in this report.

“The average person in the US population spends 64 minutes using multimedia devices in a week, or 4 hours 37 minutes in a month. However, just 61.1 million persons use these devices, or about 20% of the population. These users spend nearly an entire day per month – 23 hours 18 minutes each – using these devices,” said Glenn Enoch, senior VP, audience insights, Nielsen. “This new metric is obviously important: As ownership and the number of users of these devices continue to grow, we will see a greater impact on how Americans spend time with their TV screens.”

The report shows that they call it primetime for a reason. Among adults, weekday media consumption peaks at 9 p.m. with an average audience of 144.2 million people. TV’s audience also peaks at 9 p.m. with about 90 million people tuned in. TV’s share of audience peaks much later, at 2 a.m., when 68% of those using media are watching TV. From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., TV accounts for at least half of all media use.

The share of viewing on TV-connected devices such as DVD, game consoles and multimedia devices peaks at 1 a.m. at 8%. Use of tablets peaks with a 5% share at 7 a.m.

TV-connected and digital devices contribute a larger portion of the average audience for younger viewers, accounting for three out of seven media users in the 18 to 34 year old demo.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.