The 1st Quarter, 2012 Nielsen Cross-Platform Report was released today, and it shows folks are cutting the cord on cable in increasing numbers, with youth skewing hardest against what the company calls “traditional TV.” The report, Nielsenese for how Americans consume media content across a myriad of devices (both old and new), shows that through a “plethora of choices” consumption of live TV is either being timeshifted according to the consumer’s needs or ignored for other offerings from video games and Internet surfing to other content distribution services such as Netflix and Hulu.
The report states that:
“…platform fragmentation has multiplied by type and
device, video usage is also being redefined by the sheer
volume of entertainment content available. The number
of places you can access it and the means by which you
choose to have it delivered to you continues to grow.”
Even more interesting is the report’s focus on the decline in traditional TV penetration into households with TVs (read cable, but also include satellite services). As the move toward HDTV penetration reaches its own saturation point largely due to the switchover from analogy to digital courtesy of the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, more people are choosing options other than traditional TV to provide content.
Nielsen’s data presents a conundrum for the cable industry as usage of cable (and satellite) is decreasing, with traditional TV subscriptions tending down 2% year to year as other options for media consumption continue to grow. With 75% of an estimated 5 million homes owning a TV but not subscribing to a cable, satellite or telecommunications provider for service, many are choosing devices that stream content (such as gaming consoles ala PS3 or Xbox and dedicated devices like AppleTV, Roku or any other dedicated device option) or are choosing other options for entertainment such as video games, Internet browsing or delivery of content via DVD/Blu ray discs. The report indicates that consumption of media by mobile/smartphone devices is increasing and is beginning to have a significant impact on traditional TV viewing as well.
The report also suggests the digital divide may be closing, with African-American, Hispanic and Asian groups consuming more media across the widest possible variety of devices other than traditional TV.