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Is TV vs. Digital Video a Close Race?

Television still commands nearly 80% of Americans’ video viewing time

April 14, 2016 | Video | Media & Entertainment

It’s undeniable that Americans are spending more time watching digital video on their computers and smartphones, while spending less watching traditional TV. However, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast on time spent with media, traditional TV still captures the lion’s share of Americans’ video-based attention every day, as well as most video ad dollars.

Share of Average Time Spent per Day with Video by US Adults, TV* vs. Digital**, 2016 (% of total)

This year, US adults will spend an average of 4 hours and 5 minutes watching TV each day—a 2.1% drop from last year. The steady decline will continue through 2018, when US adults will spend 3 hours and 55 minutes a day watching TV—dropping below 4 hours for the first time.

Despite the drop, traditional TV still dominates when it comes to time spent with video. Television commands 78.4% of US adults’ time spent watching video. By comparison, this year US adults will spend an average of 1 hour and 8 minutes a day watching digital video—21.6% of time spent with video overall.

Average Time Spent per Day with TV* Among US Adult TV Viewers, by Age, 2012-2018 (hrs:mins)

Within digital video, growth in time spent will be driven almost solely by mobile. Last year, mobile video overtook desktop. And next year will be the last year of growth for time spent with desktop. After 2017, the average time spent with desktop video among US adults will begin to drop.

Time spent with traditional TV is dropping for every adult age group. Not surprisingly, Americans ages 18 to 24 watch the least TV, and that figure is also dropping the fastest compared with other age groups. This year, Americans 18 to 24 will watch 2 hours and 22 minutes of TV, compared with 6 hours and 3 minutes for those 65 and over.

US TV* vs. Digital Video** Ad Spending, 2014-2020 (billions and % change)

As people’s eyes shift away from TV to digital video, advertisers are following suit. Television still captures the majority of video-based ad dollars, but its share will fall from 39.2% of total media ad spending this year to 36.8% by 2018. Meanwhile, digital video will capture 5.5% of total media spending this year, with that figure jumping to 6.7% by 2018.

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