Americans Spending Nearly Half The Day With Media

Nielsen Report Shows Radio Holding Steady Between 14-17% Of Adult Media Consumption Regardless Of Age.

According to the first-quarter 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report, American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media. Behind this surge are the growing use of new platforms, as well as the younger, multicultural generations who leverage them.

The amount of people using traditional platforms held relatively steady when looking deeper into the data. Live + time-shifted TV viewing and radio have remained consistent over the measured quarters—a testament to the relative stability to these cornerstone media platforms. Radio alone reaches 92% of adults on a weekly basis; live and time-shifted TV has a weekly reach of 88%.

But newer platforms that have emerged as a result of internet accessibility and growing connectedness of consumers are ultimately behind the growth of media usage. For instance, TV-connected devices, such as video game consoles and internet-connected devices (Google Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Smart TV apps, etc.), allow audiences to use their internet connections and access a treasure trove of content to interact with at will.

And digital platforms—think computers, smartphones and tablets—have become a major catalyst for this frequent content exposure. In first-quarter 2018, consumers spent three hours and 48 minutes a day on digital mediums.

Demos In The Driver’s Seat

Historically, demographics have been a major factor in determining media usage. Older generations tend to lean more on traditional mediums, while younger generations are often early adopters of nascent technology.

As technology gained adoption and became universal, it would “trickle up” through the demos. Though older generations generally spend the most time with media (adults 35-49 spend over 11 hours a day on it, while adults 50-64 do so at a nearly 13-hour clip), younger generations are at the forefront of TV-connected device and digital usage.

Radio is uniquely immune to having age as a factor. It consistently accounts for between 14%-17% of daily media use.


Media Graph 1

Young adults 18-34 spend 43% of their time consuming media on digital platforms. Almost a third of their time spent with media (29%) comes from apps/web on a smartphone—the most of any measured generation.

Their share of TV-connected device usage (14%) is double that of total adults 18+ and seven-times as much as adults over the age of 65. These young adults outpace other generations in terms of daily TV-connected device usage to the tune of one hour and 15 minutes—almost half an hour more than the average adult.

Getting Social

Social networks are now beginning to affect the content landscape. While social media has already reshaped the way people connect with each other, it’s effectively become a factor for major platforms in creating and monetizing premium content. Adults 18+ spent on average 45 minutes per day on social media during first-quarter 2018, with most of that time coming from smartphones.

Media Graph 2


For additional insights, download the Q1 2018 Nielsen Total Audience report.