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US Adults Spend 5.5 Hours with Video Content Each Day

Digital video viewing adds significant time to the average US consumer's media day

April 16, 2015

Adults in the US will spend an average of 5 hours, 31 minutes watching video each day this year, according to new figures from eMarketer, and digital video viewing across devices is driving growth. In 2011, time spent with video on digital devices—PCs, mobile devices and other connected devices including over-the-top (OTT) and game consoles—totaled 21 minutes daily. This year, US adults will spend an average of 1 hour, 16 minutes each day with video on digital devices.

Average Time Spent per Day with Video by US Adults, by Media, 2011-2015 (hrs:mins)

Meanwhile, the average time US adults spent watching video programming on televisions totaled 4 hours, 35 minutes in 2011 and will decline to 4 hours, 15 minutes in 2015. In total, time spent with video on all devices is up from 4 hours, 56 minutes in 2011.

“The increase in overall screen time highlights the complexity of today’s media ecosystem,” said Paul Verna, senior analyst at eMarketer. “While so much debate has centered on a supposed tug-of-war between TV and digital video, the reality is that digital video is growing not at the expense of TV, but because video content is more popular than ever. We might spend less time watching on the main screen, but we’re no less interested in TV programming, and in fact, we seek out more of it every year.”

Average Time Spent per Day with Digital Video by US Adults, by Device, 2011-2015 (hrs:mins and CAGR)

Video is seeing gains on all digital devices this year, with the exception of desktops and laptops, which will remain flat. Time spent watching video on mobile devices will increase from 30 minutes daily among all US adults in 2014 to 39 minutes per day this year, and average daily video time on other connected devices across the US adult population will increase from 9 minutes last year to 13 minutes each day in 2015.

The drop in TV time hasn’t stopped marketers from pouring significant amounts of money into television advertising. In 2015, 40.2% of US major media ad spending will go to TV, totaling $70.59 billion, compared with TV’s 36.4% of time spent with media daily. Meanwhile, US advertisers will allocate just 4.4% of all spending, or $7.77 billion, to digital video ads, even though consumers are now spending nearly 11% of their media time watching video on digital devices.

Share of Average Time Spent per Day with Select Video by US Adults vs. Video Share of US Total Media Ad Spending, 2013-2015

“Advertisers continue to trust TV despite its limitations, and despite a proliferation of digital alternatives,” Verna said. “The resilience of TV comes partly from inertia, but also from marketers’ concerns that digital video ads aren’t always viewable or watched to completion. Until the digital advertising industry overcomes these hurdles, dollars will continue to flow disproportionately to TV.”

Overall, US adults will spend 12 hours, 4 minutes each day with major media in 2015, an increase of 7 minutes from 2014. Since 2011, US adults have increased the time they spend with major media by nearly a full hour each day.

Average Time Spent per Day with Major Media by US Adults, 2011-2015 (hrs:mins and CAGR)

Coming as a surprise to no one, consumers’ appetite for digital devices is driving this trend. Led by time spent on mobile devices, US adults will spend an average of 5 hours, 38 minutes with digital media each day in 2015, up from 5 hours, 15 minutes in 2014.

Last year, US adults spent more time on mobile devices than they did on PCs for the first time, and that gap will widen this year. Furthermore, the average time adults spend each day with TV, radio and print will decline across the board for the fourth consecutive year in 2015.

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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