Here’s An Update on Device Penetration in TV Households

May 5, 2021

Nielsen Device Service Penetration US TV Households May2021Over the past year, ownership of devices such as smartphones and tablets have remained relatively steady, per a report [download page] from Nielsen which looks at the penetration of devices and services in TV households. The report also shows that ownership of other devices has risen, perhaps resulting from the increase of certain activities due to the pandemic.

Device ownership remains highest for smartphones, with 92% of TV households owning this device in February 2021. This is fairly consistent with the level of smartphone ownership one year earlier (93%). Tablet ownership also remained steady at 63%. While tablet ownership held at the same level as last year across most racial/ethnic groups, ownership fell among Asian Americans. This group, which has an above-average rate of tablet adoption, saw ownership drop from 83% in 2020 to 73% this year.

While ownership of devices like DVD/Blu-ray players (58% in 2020 vs. 56% in 2021) and DVRs (52% vs. 50%) have decreased slightly over the past year, adoption of some devices has increased, ostensibly as a result of behaviors accentuated by the pandemic.

McKinsey found that more than one-third (36%) of the US adults surveyed spent more time streaming video last year. Perhaps as a consequence, ownership of internet-enabled TV-connected devices increased from 74% in February 2020 to 77% in February 2021. Adoption of these devices is even higher among Asian Americans (90%) and Hispanics (84%).

The percentage of households with internet-connected devices such as Roku, Fire Stick and Apple TV reached 48%, up from 42% last year, while SVOD service adoption saw a slight lift to 74%. Once again, Asian Americans over-index in ownership of internet-connected devices — 61% of Asian Americans currently own at least one of these devices.

The share of TV households with an enabled Smart TV has increased over the last year as well, with 56% now owning this device. This increase coincides with the remarkable increase in time spent viewing streaming video on Smart TV globally.

Furthermore, with more people working from home, as well as an increase in homeschooling due to the pandemic, last year NRF predicted an uptick in computer purchases for the upcoming school year. Nielsen’s more recent data does show 8 in 10 households currently own a computer, which is up slightly from 78% the same time last year.

Weekly Reach

Q3 2020 data shows that radio had the widest weekly reach among US adults (ages 18+) across platforms. Some 88% of adults listened to the radio during the quarter, however, this represents a slight year-over-year (y-o-y) drop. Reach is even higher among Hispanics (92%), who are also keen listeners of internet radio: MarketingCharts’ own research found that Hispanics were more likely than average to listen to internet radio on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, some 85% of adults spent time each week on apps or the web on a smartphone during Q3 2020. Indeed, Nielsen’s data shows that users spent an average of 20:01 (HH:MM) per week on this platform. However, adults spent even more time each week with live and time-shifted TV (30:34), with 80% of adults using the platform weekly.

The full report can be found here.


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