Nielsen Video Data: TV Declines Abating, Total Video Viewing Grows -- Pivotal Research

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Nielsen published its 4Q15 "Total Audience" data this week. Once again we saw abating declines in total TV viewing, with overall levels of live TV plus time-shifting falling by only -1.0% across the whole population. However, these figures do not include viewing of TV content in digital environments, which accounts for a substantial share of premium video consumed on other platforms. Overall, incorporating data in this report and a series of assumptions based on the data, we estimate that total video consumption across all devices for all people grew by +0.9% in the quarter.

We have reviewed newly released data from Nielsen’s latest “Total Audience” report, covering the fourth quarter of 2015. Key observations follow:

  • As we roll up figures incorporated in the report and a series of related assumptions, we estimate that total video consumption (including live TV, timeshifted TV, desktop online video, DVD/Blu-Ray viewing, tablets, smartphones and multimedia/OTT devices) grew by +0.9% in the fourth quarter of 2015, and was essentially flat year over year at -0.2% for all of 2015.
  • Declines in conventional TV viewing continued to abate, with the annual decline in live TV viewing at its lowest level since the first quarter of 2014, although still negative at -1.5% year-over-year. Further, timeshifted viewing is increasingly stable in terms of time per person and numbers of people timeshifting, resulting in a total traditional + timeshifted TV viewing decline of only -1.0% on an annual basis. Unsurprisingly, declines were much more pronounced among younger audiences. 18-24 year-old viewing levels fell off by -8.3% and 25-34 year-old viewing levels fell by -5.9%; these results also represented an improvement over trends observed during recent quarters.
  • Concentration of viewing of TV remained relatively consistent during the quarter, with the 33% heaviest users driving 52% of population-wide consumption. That same group of 33% of the population also over-indexed on internet-based content consumption (similarly accounting for 53% of activity) and on streaming video inside of that figure (37%). This reflects the notion that heavy consumers of TV can be better characterized as heavy consumers of media.
  • Concentration of streaming video viewing was significant once again, with 14% of the population accounting for 94% of total streaming video consumption via PCs. The top 7% of streamers continue to watch nearly 13x as much traditional TV as they do streaming video, although presumably this multiple would be lower if mobile devices were included. Nonetheless, the data strongly suggests that the most significant consumers of online video are likely among the most significant fans of video in whatever form it is available.
  • There were 3.9mm broadband-only homes during the second quarter, up from 3.1mm during the year-ago period. Per Nielsen’s data, Cable Plus households (inclusive of wired cable, telco and satellite TV households) totaled 100.4mm, down 1.2mm from the year-ago period. At the same time, we note that the number of Cable Plus households with no fixed internet access rose from 18.1mm to 21.0mm. Presumably this growth reflects the rise of wireless broadband in many of these homes.


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