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Nielsen’s Open-Ear Policy Isn’t Telling the Whole Picture

In Nielsen’s recently released “Cross Platform Report” for 3Q 2013, two things should jump out at you instantly:

  1. Nielsen wants to take a closer look at radio listening now that they’ve finalized their acquisition of Arbitron, as most of the text of the report spotlights radio;
  2. Despite their fresh focus upon radio, the data still proves television dominates consumers’ media usage.

Of course, what’s most important is what the data says.  It should be no surprise that traditional television is still king.

That’s right – despite the myriad of entertainment options available, traditional TV remains the main choice of media among consumers today.  It is by far the most dominant video medium across all age groups.  If you look at monthly time spent with video, 25-34 year-old adults spent 13 times as many hours watching video on television versus the Internet, and 23 times as many hours versus mobile phones.

Time shifting is still growing, and has become a valued time-management tool for sustaining people’s appetite for television.  Broadcast TV supplies a significant post-live audience.  A pilot study from Nielsen determined that an additional 11.6% of viewing occurs within seven days, and an additional 1% is added beyond seven days, up to 29 days after air, on a total day basis.

Americans remain dedicated to improving the technology in their lives, with most of that coming in tablet form.  Year-over-year, tablets grew to nearly 30 million in TV homes.  DVRs are in nearly 50% of TV homes, up to 53.8 million, and HD TV sets grew to over 95 million.

But while Americans are interested in upgrading their tech, there are quite a few who are looking to economically simplify how they get their video signal.  In third quarter, wired cable shrank 4% versus the previous year, while Broadcast Only, Satellite and Telco each posted gains.

While the economy is driving these consumer choices, viewers can still rely upon broadcast television to deliver the highest quality televised content, for free, and available in every American TV household.  And they do.  Nielsen also reported that 90-95% of all A25-54 impressions from the Top 100 programs come from broadcast television for the 2013/2014 season to date.

So no matter how many platforms Nielsen measures, there’s one fact that never changes – there’s television, then comes everything else.

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