U.S. Adults Are All About Their Smartphones and Online Video Streaming

June 27, 2016, 10:36 PM UTC
Multiple television/computer screens stretching to
A vast wall of television/computer screens showing a wide variety of images stretching to infinity against a black background
Ian McKinnell Getty Images

Our smartphone addiction is only getting worse, according to new numbers released by media analytics company Nielsen.

In the first quarter of 2016, American adults spent on average one hour and 39 minutes using their smartphones every day, up 60% as compared to a year ago, according to Nielsen’s latest Total Audience report. Overall, American adults now spend a whopping 10 hours and 39 minutes per day consuming various media, a full hour more than they did a year ago.

Meanwhile, live television continues to decline, though now at a slower rate than it did a couple of years ago. From 2014 to 2015, television watching dropped by 17 minutes. Over the past year, it only dropped by three points.

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Another interesting data point from the report is the rise of what’s called “subscription video on-demand,” or SVOD, which includes services like Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime Video. As of the first quarter of 2016, 50% of households that watch TV use at least one of these services, up from 42% a year ago. SVOD usage is now at the same level as DVR, which has plateaued at 50% of households, showing consumers’ preference is likely shifting to services like Netlix and Hulu.

Nielsen’s report supports the trends we’ve been seeing for some time. Even though some consumers, like my colleague Michal Lev-Ram, are signing up for cable TV after years without it, the trend is unlikely to reverse anytime soon.

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