U.S. TV viewing reverses declines

Friday, August 2nd, 2019 
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TV Viewing Reverses Declines, New Comcast Spotlight Research Finds

  • People spent an average of six hours, 25 minutes watching TV each day in Q1 2019, marking the highest daily time spent with TV over the last two years.
  • Cable network viewing and video on demand (VOD) are driving the uptick; VOD viewing up 36% year over year.

NEW YORK — Comcast Spotlight, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, today announced the launch of its inaugural TV Viewership Report. This new quarterly research publication provides actionable insights on how viewers are consuming content in the rapidly changing television landscape. Earlier this year, Comcast Spotlight issued The New TV report, which outlined the macro trends that are transforming television, including changes in content, distribution and data usage. The TV Viewership Report builds on The New TV findings by offering more specific information on how viewing patterns are changing.

“This is the first time that Comcast Spotlight has published such a comprehensive report on television viewing trends, and it couldn’t come at a better time. TV viewership has changed dramatically over the past five years, and we need to ensure that advertisers understand these new viewing patterns so they can plan and execute the most effective media campaigns,” said Brendan Condon, Chief Revenue Officer, Comcast Spotlight.

One of the most notable findings coming out of this edition was the fact that TV viewership is at a two-year high, reversing the trend of decline that Comcast Spotlight has seen since it began tracking this data in 2017. In Q1 2019, people spent an average of six hours and 25 minutes watching TV each day. More specifically, in Q1 2019, viewing rose six percent (21 minutes) over Q1 2018.

The Rise of Video on Demand (VOD)

Growth in viewership was driven by a substantial increase in VOD usage, as well as an increase in viewing on cable networks.

  • In Q1 2019, cable network viewing increased 7% and made up two-thirds of total viewing.
  • VOD viewing has increased by 36% year on year and doubled across total Comcast households since 2016; over three-fourths (79%) of households watched VOD in Q1 2019.
  • Comcast households watch 100,000 VOD titles each month, up from 52,000 in 2016.
  • On average, households spent 53 minutes watching VOD each day, and five hours and 32 minutes watching live programming. So, while VOD is changing the way viewers watch TV, live programming continues to capture the largest share of viewing by a wide margin.

Two Paths of Fragmentation

An abundance of choice in both content and distribution options is contributing to viewing fragmentation. The report found fragmentation happening in two key areas: network selection and daypart mix.

  • There were 308 different “most watched” networks (the network with the most viewing in a household) across Comcast households in Q1 2019.
  • The average household watched 34 networks.
  • More than half of all viewing (68%) occurred outside of television’s traditional primetime.

“People today have countless options when it comes to content, distribution and access, and that’s driven important viewing changes that marketers need to understand. We show advertisers how to augment their TV strategies with data-driven, content-agnostic planning, which often leads them in a new direction, to more networks and expanded dayparts,” said Andrea Zapata, VP, Research & Insights, Comcast Spotlight. “With the proper insights, advertisers can find audiences wherever and whenever they are watching and continue to drive phenomenal results.”

The TV Viewership Report is comprised of viewership insights from over 17 million Comcast households across 65 markets. Its findings are based on approximately nine billion hours of viewing data captured in Q1 2019.

More: Report Download Page

Links: Comcast Spotlight