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Video Viewing Strong on All Screens

The “Three Screens” rule.

March 3, 2009

In the early 1980s the chant was, “I want my MTV!” Now viewers just want their video—any way they can get it.

According to the “AM/M2 Three Screen Report,” from Nielsen, use of television, Internet and mobile devices hit record levels in Q4 2008, when the average US viewer watched more than 151 hours of television per month.

In addition, Internet viewers also watched another 3 hours of online video per month, and mobile viewers watched nearly 4 hours more of video per month on mobile phones and other devices.

“The American fascination with television and other video content is not easing up,” said Susan Whiting, vice chair of The Nielsen Company. “Viewers appear to be choosing the best screen available for their video consumption.”

At slightly under 3 hours a month, Internet viewers spent 22 more minutes watching video online than during the previous quarter—nearly a 15% increase and a growth rate twice that of television.

As Ms. Whiting told The Wall Street Journal, “If people like video, they like it wherever they can get it.”

Of course that does not mean, in these recessionary times, that viewers are unaware of the costs of viewing.

In related findings, a Nielsen “SportsQuest Survey” conducted late last year found that that 63% of US consumers had changed their spending habits—and 26% of them had reduced TV-related spending.

The cutbacks came from purchasing or renting fewer DVDs (19%) and purchasing fewer video-on-demand and pay-per-view movies and events (16%). An additional 11% of respondents altered their cable or satellite subscription package and 3% said they had canceled their subscription.

“While some kinds of discretionary spending, such as travel and car and clothing purchases, have taken a significant hit, TV-related expenses have been spared significant cuts at this point,” said Pat McDonough of Nielsen. “Consumers may reduce the number of movies they rent, or perhaps downgrade their service, but overall it appears that TV continues to be almost a necessity rather than discretionary.”

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