Streaming Accounts for 19% of Total TV Viewing With Netflix Leading the Pack, Nielsen Says

Streaming video has boomed over the past few years — but it still represents just around one-fifth of all time Americans spend in front of their TVs, according to a new report from Nielsen.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, about 19% of the time spent watching TV by consumers who have internet-connected TV devices was from streaming video sources, including free and subscription-based services, according to Nielsen. That’s up from 10% in Q1 of 2018.

Netflix had 31% share of all connected-TV viewing in Q4 2019, the most of any single internet service. YouTube was next with 21% share, followed by Hulu at 12% and Amazon at 8%. Other services, including recently launched Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus, accounted for the remaining 28%. Note that Nielsen here is measuring streaming viewing only on TVs, excluding videos watched on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Nielsen’s “Total Audience Report” quantified the sheer volume of entertainment available to U.S. consumers. The research firm said Americans had access to 646,152 unique program titles (TV series, movies, specials, live sports broadcasts and other programming) across linear TV and streaming services through December 2019, up almost 10% over 2018. Of those titles, about 9% were available exclusively via a subscription VOD service.

A Nielsen survey of U.S. adults found that 91% of all respondents said they subscribe to a streaming video service (and 96% of respondents 18-34 do). Overall, 30% of U.S. consumers subscribe to three or more video streaming services.

Per Nielsen, Americans’ average time per day viewing live and time-shifted TV among adults 18 and over dropped by 7% in Q3 of 2019, to 3 hours and 56 minutes (down 17 minutes from the year-earlier period). Time spent watching content on connected-TV devices increased 17% over the same time period, to 55 minutes daily. Average video viewing on smartphones increased 45% to 16 minutes daily, while time spent watching video on computers was flat at an average of 7 minutes per day.

The biggest jump in time spent with media in Q3 2019, according to Nielsen, was on smartphone apps and web browsing: Americans 18 and older spent 3 hours and 58 minutes on their mobile phones in the third quarter, up 58% from 2 hours and 31 minutes a year prior.

Nielsen’s “Total Audience Report” also covered audio-streaming services, finding that 63% of those surveyed pay for at least one audio-streaming subscription (such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music or Pandora), and over half (53%) pay for two.

Nielsen’s television data is derived from its National TV Panel that is based on a sample of over 40,000 homes and encompasses live, time-shifted, and content viewed on TV-connected devices. The company also conducted a custom online survey about streaming video and audio services of 1,000 U.S. adults from Nov. 14-23, 2019.

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