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Nielsen is out with its latest Three Screen Report, which tracks American’s consumption of video content on TV, the web and via mobile, and…

50s Family Watching TV
photo: AP Images

Nielsen is out with its latest Three Screen Report, which tracks American’s consumption of video content on TV, the web and via mobile, and while it’s no surprise that more people watched video on their phones and online — up 70 percent and 46 percent, respectively — what’s interesting is that the uptick hasn’t come at the expense of TV.

Americans watched 141 hours of TV each month in Q209; that’s up by about 2 percent (or two hours more, per month) versus Q208. We’re also using our DVRs more — watching an hour more of time-shifted TV per month, than in the same quarter last year.

In a statement, Jim O’Hara, Nielsen’s President of media product leadership, paints a rosy picture of the steady increase in consumption, saying that consumers have chosen to “add elements to their media experience” instead of replacing them. But broadcast and cable networks concerned about ratings (and ad revenue) slumps shouldn’t jump for joy at the stats yet — because a deeper dive reveals that Americans are increasingly multi-tasking while they’re watching TV.

Around 57 percent of all Americans with internet access at home are watching TV and using the web simultaneously at least once per month, and on average, we’re watching TV about a third of the time that we’re online. Overall, Nielsen says we’re spending close to two hours and 40 minutes multi-tasking in this way each month (which actually seems a little low), but it’s just more proof that the captive audience the TV networks are used to charging high CPMs for, isn’t exactly captive.

And as the number of hours we spend multi-tasking while watching TV increases, likely does our ability to tune out when those expensive 30-second spots come on; even more reason for advertisers to balk at locking in big, high-priced campaigns during the upfronts — or even decide to spend more on video ads on sites like Hulu and TV.com.

  1. Does it strike us as interesting that the company that gets the vast lion's share of it revenue from TV keeps suggesting that TV viewing is not down….Hmm, I wonder?

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