Is live TV dying? No, but it’s not as healthy as it once was

By Jim O'Neill on Jan 04 2017 at 3:15 PM
Is live TV dying? No, but it’s not as healthy as it once was

Viewing time of live TV continued to decline in Q3, albeit by only a minute in from a year ago, as viewers increasingly tune in to time-shifted TV and online video.

Nielsen said live TV viewing per day slipped to four hours and six minutes in the third quarter, a minute less than in Q3 2015, and a much smaller decrease than the six-minute drop between Q3 2014 and Q3 2015.

The extra minute went to DVR viewing, which increased to 29 minutes from 28 minutes.

That said, Nielsen’s Q3 Total Audience Report estimates the number of TV households subscribing to video on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video increased to 54% from 46% in Q3 2015, showing the OTT revolution continues apace. Another recent report, from Parks Associates, showed that nearly half the U.S. broadband households that subscribe to a video on-demand service likely took more than one. Digital TV Research, meanwhile, last month forecast 112 million SVOD subscribers by the end of 2016.

Pay-TV didn’t fare as well, showing continuing subscriber declines. A year ago, there were 100 million pay-TV subscribers in the U.S., that number has fallen to 89.2 million.

And there’s more on the way, especially as consumers discover OTT options like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now and the soon-to-launch Hulu Cloud TV offering.

Broadband-only households continue to increase as Millennials establish homes sans pay-TV, opting for what they’ve become accustomed to paying for: Internet access. Nielsen found broadband-only homes increased 27% to 4.6 million from 4.36 million. And, as more consumers eschew pay-TV, more are opting for over-the air content; broadcast-only HH increased to 14.3 million, a 12% bump from 12.8 million a year ago.

Stay tuned.

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