Viewers are spending as much time in front of their TV as ever during primetime, according to new research, but what content they’re consuming during that crucial period for advertisers is a whole different story.
While the percentage of viewers in the 18-49 demographic sitting in front of their TVs from 8-9 p.m. has barely budged from just below 60% when comparing the results of research firm GfK’s survey earlier this year with those conducted in 2004 and 2008, consumption of recorded and streaming programming is growing at the expense of live telecasts.
The percentage of viewers watching live TV from 8-9 p.m. has plummeted from 83% in 2008 to 64% in 2012, according to the research.
Meanwhile, those watching a recorded program (DVR or DVD) in that hour jumped from 16% to 26% over the same period. Streaming video options like Netflix, which weren’t even measured in the 2008 survey, registered 7% in 2012. Video games inched up a bit compared with 2008 levels, to 8%.
The data underscores the ratings erosion being felt across the TV landscape this fall as the broadcasters see significant drops in the size of the audience tuning in live, in addition to corresponding increases watching within three or seven days later via DVRs.
The trend away from live only gets more pronounced among younger viewers. The segment of audience ages 13 to 32 made only 57% of their 8 p.m. viewing live, while streaming accounted for 12%, videogames, 13% and recorded video, 28%. The 13-32 demo’s live-viewing in the hour dropped 30% from 2008 levels.
The GfK research also noted that the number of viewers using smartphones while in front of their TVs during primetime is at 20%, a habit that wasn’t on the radar four years ago, which could speak to the potential of second-screen applications.
Social media and tablet usage during primetime, which also wasn’t measured in 2008, saw smaller gains of 9% and 5%, respectively.
One statistic showed upside for advertisers provided they can achieve the ubiquity in non-live primetime that they have in live. Viewers who switch channels mid-program tumbled from 43% in 2008 to 30%.
Whatever viewers are watching on their TVs, it’s apparently doing a much better job of holding their attention.