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Nielsen Report Sheds Light on U.S. SVOD Audience

The continuing growth of subscription VOD services led by Netflix in the U.S. may be taking its toll on live-TV watching.

A pair of statistics issued Wednesday in Nielsen’s quarterly Total Audience Report suggested there could be more than just a correlation between the two viewing patterns — a subject of much debate among industry analysts.

According to Nielsen’s findings, 40.3% of homes in the United States have access to an SVOD service as of Q4 of 2014, which is an increase from the 36% reported in Q4 of 2013.

Over the same period, the average adult over 18 years old watched 4 hours and 51 minutes of live TV, down from 5 hours and 4 minutes in the same time frame in 2013, and 5 hours and 10 minutes in Q4 of 2012.

Live TV could stand to lose even more ground to Netflix and its main SVOD rivals, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus given indications they have plenty of room for more growth. Nielsen reported 35.2% of U.S. homes subscribing to broadband service but not SVOD, and the remaining 24.5% of homes with neither broadband nor SVOD. Companies such as Netflix are likely well under way with plans to target those demographics.

Unsurprisingly, the report also revealed that Netflix dominates the SVOD business, with 36% market share. That would represent nearly three times the number of subscribers that the survey determined Amazon Prime might have (13%), and about six times as many subscribers as Hulu Plus (6.5%).

While Netflix made public in January that the service finished 2014 with 39.1 million subscribers in the U.S., Nielsen’s calculations shed light on market share Amazon has never reported for its own SVOD service. Hulu has not shared its own SVOD numbers since last April, when it reported 6 million subs.

Also noteworthy is the revelation that about 13% of U.S. homes subscribe to more than one streaming service.

Homes with SVOD subscriptions log more time spent consuming video on TV-connected devices than non-SVOD TV homes by nearly 50 minutes. Households with SVOD spend an average of 2 hours and 45 minutes watching screens on those devices, trumping traditional TV homes’ average of one hour and 57 minutes.

Another predictable trend confirmed by Nielsen’s findings is that SVOD users skew younger, with 25% of SVOD subscribers under the age of 35 (compared to only 19% of TV-only homes under 35). On the other side of the age spectrum, only 11% of SVOD’s users are over age 65.

And the age factor doesn’t stop there. SVOD homes are more likely than standard TV homes to belong to families with children, with children present in 45% of SVOD homes compared to 35% of traditional TV homes.

In the report’s preface, Nielsen’s senior VP of insights Dounia Turrill likens the competition (and value) of the SVOD situation to “a modern-day gold rush.” If the results of this study make one thing clear, it’s that there is still plenty of value to be mined from the current digital content landscape.

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