The Average American Watches More TV Than The Average TV Critic

As someone who writes about television for a living, I like to have an informed opinion about the television shows I write about (whether you agree with the informed opinion is another matter all together). As such, I watch a lot of television. I’ve never really done the math on it, but on an average heavy week of television, say in November, I watch about 30 shows a week. Let’s say that’s 15 hour-long dramas (usually around 48 minutes a piece, if you average network and cable running times) and 15 30-minute shows (at about 24 minutes). That comes out to about 18 hours a week. Around 20 weeks of the year, you can also add 8 hours of NFL, per week. So, on my heaviest television watching weeks, I watch about 26 hours of television.

Weirdly, that’s not nearly as much as the average American, according to Nielsen statistics.

The average American over the age of 2 spends more than 34 hours a week watching live television, says a new Nielsen report — plus another three to six hours watching taped programs.

Woah. So, including taped programming, the average American watches 37-40 hours of television per week (or the number of hours that “American Idol” airs each week). Add to that the fact that the average 35-49 year old spends another seven hours of week goofing around on the Internet, and that’s basically 47 hours of screen time.

There are 168 hours in a week. Let’s say the average person sleeps 7 hours per night (if you have newborns, you can laugh along with me at that number). That’s 49 hours per week, plus 56 hours per week at work (8 hours per day). So, work + sleep + Internet/TV = 152 hours. That means, conservatively put, the average American only spends 16 hours per week — or two hours per day — not sleeping, working, or watching television, and since the average commute for Americans is 46 minutes a day, it’s really only one hour and 14 minutes each day you leave yourself for showering, eating, exercising, bar-hopping, shopping, sex, and bathing.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that; I’m not judging. I’m just saying, if you’re watching that much television each week, make sure you’re watching something good and not Honey Boo Boo.