Traditional TV use is holding steady as streaming threatens a revolution

July 2, 2013 | By More

Five years ago, a common mantra in the industry was that cord cutting among pay-TV subscribers was just a blip, caused by woeful economic conditions exacerbated, perhaps, by the rising cost of subscriptions to premium and basic services.

Last month, one of the analysts that had long held that view, who had called cord cutting an urban myth at one point, released a report that not only acknowledged cord cutting was real, but also said it could morph into a significant threat as OTT services like Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and Hulu continued to improve and grow their own offerings.

video streaming

Taking a look at the newest report from Nielsen–its June 2013 Cross-Platform Report, and how so many pundits have interpreted it–it’s like déjà vu all over again.

Most reports trumpet “TV viewing is growing,” especially on traditional platforms, discounting the huge growth, by comparison, of streaming to mobile device and across OTT platforms like Roku and Apple TV.

Nielsen points out: “Traditional TV viewing has grown year-over-year among the total population.” While true, the growth is miniscule, just more than 1.13%, between the first quarter of 2012 and 2013. And, the average time Americans actually watch live TV daily actually is down over the past five years from 4 hours and 47 minutes in 2009 to 4 hours and 39 minutes in 2013.

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Watching video on the Internet, meanwhile, grew by 54.32%, and watching video on mobile phones increased more than 9.3%.

Watching video on a computer and using a game console showed declines of 5.37% and 6.73% respectively. Add to that the Nielsen findings that the number of game consoles in the U.S. dropped to 50.1 million from 51.1 million a year ago, and it becomes apparent why Microsoft (MSFT) has totally revamped its Xbox, hoping to recapture a market segment that seems to be losing ground to cheaper alternatives like Rokus and Apple TVs.

Not surprisingly, the most active users of mobile video were younger viewers. Nielsen said weekly viewing among adults 18-24 averaged 27 minutes, while adults 25-35 watched 23 minutes and adults 35-49 watched 13 minutes.

The number of HDTVs in U.S. homes was estimated to have grown by Nielsen to 91.3 million from 83.5 million a year ago.

The number of tablets in homes, meanwhile, more than doubled. Nielsen estimates 23.1 million tablets are now present in U.S. homes, up from 10.7 million a year ago.

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Category: ANALYSIS

Jim ONeill

About the Author ()

Jim O’Neill has been a business journalist since 1992, and has been writing about the digital media industry since 2007. He formerly was the editor of industry journals FierceIPTV and FierceOnlineVideo, and has worked as an industry analyst for international research firm Parks Associates. He currently is CEO and Editor of, a newsletter that takes a deeper look at the trends and happenings in the digital media industry, and continues writing research and white papers on a variety of topics in the sector. He can be reached at

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