A Look at the 2014 Q4 Nielsen Total Audience Report

Yesterday, Nielsen released the Total Audience Report for the last quarter of 2014. As always, the report is chock-full of interesting data about the media consumption habits of the American people. The piece rightly notes that the use of what they call Subscription-Based Video on Demand (think Netflix, Hulu, the On Demand feature from cable providers) is on the rise, and contributing to the decline in live television viewership.

However, the report also makes it clear that Americans still watch A LOT of live television. For as much as you may hear people say “the only thing I watch live anymore is sports,” that statement is simply not true for the vast majority of Americans.

Below, please find that, and  some other key takeaways from the report, but the whole document is worth a read.

Key Takeaway #1 – Live Television is still dominant.

Despite all the talk of cord cutting, DVRs,  Netflix, and Hulu, Americans age 18+ still consume most of their media by watching live television. The average American watches four hours and fifty-one minutes of live television per day. In comparison, they spend thirty-three minutes per day watching what Nielsen terms time-shifted TV.

Key Takeaway #2 – AM/FM Radio still has its place.

After live television, more Americans spend time listening to AM/FM radio than any other type of media consumption measured by Nielsen, with the average American spending two hours and forty-three minutes per day listening to AM/FM radio.

Key Takeaway #3 – Yes, Live TV and AM/FM Radio are still dominant, but that does not mean the media environment is not changing.

Live TV and AM/FM radio are still dominant, but they are also on the decline, with live TV viewership and radio listenership declining for three years in a row.

Year Avg Time Per Day Spent Viewing Live TV Avg Time Per Day Spent Listening to AM/FM Radio
Q4 2012 5 hours and 10 minutes 2 hours and 50 minutes
Q4 2013 5 hours and 4 minutes 2 hours and 46 minutes
Q4 2014 4 hours and 51 minutes 2 hours and 43 minutes

Key Takeaway #4 –Americans are moving away from live TV and AM/FM radio and towards smartphones.

While Americans are watching less live television and listening to less radio, they are spending significantly more time on their smartphones.

Year Avg Time Per Day on Smartphone
Q4 2012 53 minutes
Q4 2013 1 hour and 7 minutes
Q4 2014 1 hour and 25 minutes

Key Takeaway #5 – 18-34 year olds watch significantly less live television than the average American.

This is certainly not a surprise, but the Nielsen data is helpful in demonstrating just HOW much less live TV younger Americans are watching.

Age Avg Time Per Day Spent Viewing Live TV
Average American 4 hours and 51 minutes
Age 25-24 3 hours and 33 minutes
Age 18-24 2 hours and 49 minutes

Key Takeaway #6 – 18-24 year olds spend a disproportionate amount of their time using a game console.

So, if 18-24 year olds are spending so much less time watching live television, where are they spending their excess time? Using game consoles. The average American spends 13 minutes per day using a game console, while the average 18-24 year old uses a game console almost three times as much, at 36 minutes per day.


Public Opinion Strategies