Nielsen: Live TV viewing down, DVRs up

Survey of Q1 trends finds drop in homes with DVD/Blu-ray

The traditional methods of watching video continued to shrink in the first quarter of 2012, according to new Nielsen data, which indicates growing alternatives.

U.S. viewers spent four hours and 38 minutes per day watching live TV, according to Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Report out Tuesday, marking a nine-minute decrease from the same quarter the previous year.

Meanwhile, DVD playback shrunk two minutes over the same period, to 12 minutes per day. That might be explained somewhat by a drop in the number of households that have a DVD or Blu-ray player, which dropped by a little more than 2 million, to 97.3 million for the quarter.

Usage of digital video recorders inched up to 24 minutes per day, from 21 minutes per day in Q1 2011. DVRs are getting more playback than DVD despite the fact they are available in about half as many homes, though that number is on the increase as well. DVRs are in 47.9 million homes for the quarter, or about 45% of U.S. TV households, up from 43.7 million a year ago.

Viewing via videogame consoles held steady quarter over quarter at 14 minutes, with the number of consoles up slightly to just over 51 million.

Video viewing on the Internet was not broken down on a daily basis but its monthly sum came in at 162.5 million minutes, compared with 283 million minutes for traditional TV. Changes in Nielsen’s tracking of Internet video viewing don’t allow for a proper gauge of growth versus the previous year.

Nielsen numbers on distribution sources of video will give cord cutting-watchers a little grist for the mill. While satellite and telco video providers posted minor increases in subs, cable took a more pronounced tumble from 62.6 million in 2011 to 59.8 million in the first quarter of this year. However, broadcast-only homes actually inched down from 2011 to just over 11 million.

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