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Linear TV Watching Down, Digital Viewing Up in Nielsen’s Q3 Report

More proof of the sea-change in TV watching: Digital video viewing is up by double digits across key adult demographics, while viewing via a traditional TV screen is dipping.

Nielsen’s new “Total Audience Report” examining viewing stats in the third quarter of 2014 is an effort by the TV ratings guru to document the migration of viewership away from linear TV sources to DVR, VOD and streaming platforms.

“While we are not seeing a departure from media content consumption, we do see a shift in consumer behavior and today we see a resounding growth in consumption on digital platforms,” wrote Dounia Turrill, Nielsen’s senior VP of insights.

According to the report, the average adult spent 4 hours and 32 minutes watching live TV in the third quarter, down 4.4% from 4 hours and 44 minutes in the year-ago frame.

The amount of time spent on time-shifted viewing via DVR rose to 30 minutes, from 28 minutes in Q3 2013. Time spent using the Internet on a computer climbed to 1 hour and 6 minutes, up from 1 hour, and time spent using a smartphone spiked to 1 hour and 33 minutes, from 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Digital-video usage overall rose 60% year over year — from 6 hours and 41 minutes in Q3 2013 to 10 hours and 42 minutes in the most recent quarter. Time spent watching Internet video was up 53% among adults 18-49 quarter to quarter; linear TV viewing for that key demo dropped 3% although it still accounted for more than four hours of total viewing time compared with less than an hour of digital-video time.

Among adults 25-54, the dynamic was the same, with digital up 62% while linear TV ebbed 2% but still accounted for the overwhelming amount of viewing. Among adults 55 and older, digital viewing rose 55% while linear viewing was flat year-over-year.

The number of television homes that are broadband-only — meaning homes that receive programming only through a broadband service — reached 2.57 million (there was no comparable year-ago number), or about 3% of total TV households.

The number of homes that only receive broadcast TV climbed by nearly 1 million year-over-year, to 12.16 million. The number of homes wired for cable dropped to 52.98 million, from 56.12 million in the year-ago period. Telco homes were up by more than 1 million to 12.88 million, while satellite TV homes fell to 34.72 million, from 35.11 million.

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