Youth Spend the Majority of Their TV Time with Internet-Connected Devices

January 21, 2022

More than 8 in 10 US households have at least one internet-connected TV device and, as a result, many advertisers are shifting some of their linear TV budgets over to CTV advertising. This shift in advertising budgets could prove beneficial, especially if the target audience is younger audiences, with data from Nielsen showing that younger viewers spend the majority of their TV time with using TV-connected devices. 

September 2021 data from Nielsen reveals that, generally, US TV viewers (ages 2 and older) still spend most of their TV time (68%) with traditional TV. This share is considerably lower than the 92% of TV time spent with traditional TV 10 years earlier, though. In fact, back in 2011, TV homes spent an average of just 25 minutes per day watching on internet-connected devices, compared to the 1 hour and 25 minutes spent per day watching on these devices in 2021.

Nielsen points to the pandemic as a key reason for the increase in overall time spent watching TV via connected devices. Its data shows that in the year between September 2020 and September 2021, the share of time spent watching on internet-connected devices increased from 26% to 32%. 

When broken down by age, it’s clear to see that younger audiences are driving the use of internet-connected devices including Smart TVs, video game consoles, and OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV Sticks and Roku. These devices accounted for close to two-thirds of the time individuals ages 2-11 (64%), 12-17 (64%) and 18-24 (63%) spend with TV. Indeed, the most recent edition of MarketingCharts’ US Media Audience Demographics report shows that adults ages 18-24 are 20% less likely than average to watch traditional TV on a weekly basis. 

This is not to say that older age groups aren’t coming around to watching TV on connected devices. Although adults ages 50-64 spend more than three-quarters (78%) of their time spent with TV watching traditional TV, they are spending more time watching on connected devices than they have in the past. In 2021, this age group spent 22% of their TV time on connected devices. This is compared to 5 years earlier, when only 6% of their TV time was with internet-connected devices.

Once again, the pandemic was a driver for the increase in the share of time spent with TV-connected devices, with that share increasing from 15% in September 2020 to 22% in September 2021.

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