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10 Interesting Facts About American Television Consumption In 2013

By / 05.14.14

Nielsen has released its State of the Media report this month, which basically lays out all the statistics they’ve gleaned from their rating service. Some of the numbers are fascinating, if you’re into nerdy TV statistics. The ten stats are below, but I’ll lead with the conclusion, which is this, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know it: People watch a sh*t ton of TV, and although our options have increased dramatically over the past decade, the time we spend watching TV has not substantially increased. Therefore, our hours are divided among more and more shows, which is why a show like New Girl can get a renewal with only 3 million viewers, when just four years ago, shows like Lone Star were cancelled after two episodes for only getting 4 million viewers.

But it also means this: Ad money — which is also fairly steady — is also being heavily divided, so TV ad rates are going down, and in order to make up the losses, we are exposed to more commercials (about 43 hours of commercials a month). The trend is in 15 second commercials (advertisers make almost much an impact in 15 seconds as they do in 30 seconds, at half the cost).

When and where do we watch? Strikingly, we still spend most of our time watching traditional cable TV (as opposed to Netflix or Hulu), and we tend to watch more dramas on Sunday nights than anything else, which is why the networks cram their best programs onto that night. There’s a bigger audience there.

The most interesting stat, however, is that we have a TON of channels, but we barely watch any of them.

The take home is this: With more programs competing for the same money, competition has gotten fiercer, which one would think might provoke programmers to come up with better shows. That’s certainly the case on cable and Netflix, but as this week’s upfronts have demonstrated, it’s not always the case with broadcast networks, which are still trying desperately to cater to a broad audience when that broad audience doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

Here’s ten facts we learned about TV consumption in 2013 from the State of the Media Report, and if you want to dig into the numbers deeper, check out the entire report where you can also find out how much we spend on beer per year at the grocery store ($28 billion).

1. Most Watched TV Night: Sunday (125 million viewers); Least Watched TV Night: Friday (107 million viewers).

2. Amount of Money Spent on TV Ads: $78 billion

3. The genre where advertisers spend the most: Drama

4. The Average cost of a 30 second spot in Primetime: $7,800

5. Hours of TV the Average Viewer Watches Per Month: 175

6. Hours of Netflix and Hulu (combined) the Average Viewer Watches Per Month: 18

7. Hours of YouTube the Average Viewer Watches Per Month: 3.27

8. Average Channels A Viewer Has Access To: 189

9. Average Channels a Viewer Actually Watches: 17.5

10. Average Minutes of Commercials Per Hour: 14.15 (Network), 15.38 (Cable). That’s up about one minute since 2009.

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Source: Nielsen


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