Nielsen: Today’s Youth Is Watching Less TV & More Online Video

A new report from Nielsen shows signs of a new trend among younger viewers—the more online video content consumed by a viewer the less television they watched.

For the last couple of years people have been speculating about the affect online video would have on the television industry.  Would services like Hulu and Netflix tempt viewers to cancel their cable subscriptions?  Would television viewing as we know it become extinct?

New data from Nielsen shows that TV is far from extinct—in fact, according to Nielsen’s ‘State of the Media: The Cross Platform Report’, “Overall TV viewership increased 22 minutes per month per person over last year, demonstrating moderate growth and remaining the dominant source of video content for all demographics.”  That being said, the report also exhibited signs of a new trend among younger viewers—the more online video content consumed by a viewer the less television they watched.

One of the emerging trends reported by the Nielsen study, which you can request here, is that “the lightest traditional television users [are] streaming significantly more Internet video via their computers, and the heaviest streamers [are] under-indexing for traditional TV viewership.”  This behavior was most common among viewers aged 18 to 34, confirming the idea that online video is taking the place of television—though it’s happening at a pretty slow pace.  Television is still very obviously dominant in the video content arena.

This phenomenon is expressed in the visualization below.  It’s a little tricky to read, but basically illustrates that the more online video a viewer watches the less television they watch and vice versa.

Of course, these findings shouldn’t be that surprising.  The average person only has so many hours of viewing time allotted in a single day, so the more they watch of one medium the less time they’ll have for the other.  But as time goes by I think we’ll see more and more people swapping out their TV content for streaming video.

Another interesting statistic pointed out in the report is the role that age plays in the way viewers consume video.  “The age groups 25-34, 35-49 and 50-64 each dominate a specific platform.  Traditional TV viewership steadily increases with age, so it comes as no surprise that Adults 50-64 make up the largest segment of the traditional TV audience (25%).  The largest segment of the Internet video audience is Adults 35-49 (27%), while the largest segment of the mobile video audience is 25-34 year olds (30%).”  12-17 year olds spend a third of their online time watching video.  It appears that these younger Americans are definitely trending in the direction of streaming video online and it should be interesting to see how this phenomenon works itself out and how the growth of online video will affect the amount of television that consumers are watching in the future.

What do you think about the Nielsen findings?  Let us know in the comments below.

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Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.