Are TV Viewers getting older?

Despite the whole ‘newspaper death watch’ trend, current research shows that the TV is still the main media device for most consumers.   At the same time, there are signs that do show some viewers, especially younger ones, switching off their boxes.

For example, the other day GigaOm reported on a Nielsen study done in TV-land: The United States.   Nielsen shows that US TV viewers watched less in Q2 2010 compared to the previous quarter, but that’s a stat that can be explained away by seasonal factors.   What’s more interesting is when you look at TV time by age group.

Certainly in the pre Internet 1980s, teens were the prime TV audience.   Now at 103:46 hours:minutes a month, 12-17 year olds watch less TV than any other age group.   Similarly, 18-24 year olds (113:54) tune in for a significantly shorter period of time than other adults.   In fact, Nielsen’s stats show that the older you are, the more TV you watch with people who are 65+ watching almost 200 hours.

GigaOm comments, “it’s not a good sign for TV programmers and cable companies, which are gradually seeing their viewers getting older.”

Some additional stats from both the UK and US that support this trend:

1 – The UK’s Ofcom Communications Markets Report asks consumers about their most essential media.   Looking at which one piece of media they would miss the most, 50% of all UK consumers chose TV.   However, for the under 25s that dropped to 36%.

2 – Similarly, according to Pew Research, 53% of US adults aged 65+ consider their TV set an essential item, compared to 29% of 18-29 year olds.

A lot of that time spent away from the TV set is of course spent online.   But there is also some evidence to show that social networks could be slowly bringing people back to the television set.

Last week Fastcompany had a piece on Twitter bringing back “appointment TV” – live events that you want to share with your friends via social media (with your laptop or phone open beside you).   And Motorola’s research out this week says that 42% of TV viewers have exchanged e-mails, had IM chats or used social media to talk about a TV programme at the same time they were viewing it, while 22% said that social media + TV “multitasking” was a regular feature of their television experience.

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