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POINT OF VIEW

America’s changing media habits in one chart

Nielsen media study
Nielsen
No more TV time?
  • Adam Epstein
By Adam Epstein

Entertainment reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What Americans traditionally call “TV time” is shrinking, according to a media study released today by Nielsen. Americans 18 years and older are watching nearly 20 minutes less of live television per day than they were only two years ago.

A lot of those minutes have shifted to smartphones, which Americans are using for 32 minutes more per day than they were in 2012. With Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video, and a host of other streaming video and on-demand services, some of this increased smartphone use actually is TV time—just not delivered via cable or satellite to a television set.

In fact, the cable industry blames 40% of its TV ratings losses (paywall) to the rise of subscription video on demand services (SVOD) such as Netflix. Total TV viewing dropped around 10% in each of the last two quarters, according to Nielsen. While Nielsen doesn’t break down streaming video in this chart, it’s spread between internet on a computer (watching Netflix on your laptop), multimedia devices (like Roku or Apple TV), gaming consoles, and smartphones.

There’s little doubt that online video is having a real effect on traditional media consumption. Netflix alone is in 36% of Americans households with a traditional cable or satellite TV subscription. Amazon is in 13%; Hulu is in 6.5%. Netflix is also responsible for a whopping 35% of bandwidth usage in North America.

Online video is causing palpable changes in the way Americans consume media, and with products like HBO’s upcoming internet-only service, that change is poised to become even more drastic.

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