US adults spend 11 hours engaging with media everyday

Behind this surge are the growing use of new platforms, as well as the younger, multicultural generations who leverage them.
10 August 2018

Facebook and other social media platforms have a big opportunity ahead of them. Source: Flickr / JD Lasica

On the way to work and in the office, people are glued to their phones, constantly consuming content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other apps – or listening to the radio.

At home, after work and on the weekends, people sit in front of the couch, watching Netflix and YouTube on their tablets, phones, and smart TVs. And that’s great, for consumers and for marketers.

Each of those interactions is a marketing opportunity. For Facebook, Netflix, and everyone else.

According to a new report by Nielsen, US adults are now spending nearly 11 hours a day consuming and interacting with media. If people sleep for 8 hours a day, 11 hours makes up almost 70 percent of the remaining.

Behind this surge are the growing use of new platforms, as well as the younger, multicultural generations who leverage them.

Daily Time Spent With Media

Overall, live and time-shifted television, even when accounting for seasonal fluctuations in viewership, still accounts for a majority of an adult’s media usage, with four hours and 46 minutes being spent with the platform daily during the first-quarter.

However, it is the newer platforms that have ultimately fuelled the growth in consumption.

Internet accessibility and growing connectedness of consumers make TV-connected devices, such as video game consoles and internet-connected devices (Google Chromecast, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV) allows audiences to use their internet connections and access a treasure trove of content to interact with, at will.

From the fourth-quarter of 2017 to the first-quarter of 2018, Nielsen found that adults spent at least an extra five to 40 minutes on such devices.

Digital usage also continues to play a growing role with the adult U.S. consumer. Digital platforms—think computers, smartphones and tablets—have become a major catalyst for this frequent content exposure.

In the first-quarter of 2018, consumers spent three hours and 48 minutes a day on digital mediums. This is a 13-minute increase from the prior quarter, and 62 percent of that time is attributed to app/web usage on the ubiquitous smartphone.

Statistics suggest that the older generation generally spends 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 and 17 percent of daily media use.

Share of Time by Platform

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

Young adults’ share of TV-connected device usage (14 percent) 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.

TV, video, and social media lead

The first-quarter 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report looked into how video content and social media usage have become increasingly pertinent in reaching today’s audiences.

Platforms that utilize video content represent a substantial portion of time spent with media.

According to the report, overall video use—time spent with a TV set, computer video, and using video focused app/web on smartphones and tablets—netted out to nearly six hours per day for US adults during the first-quarter this year.

Compared with the previous quarter, this viewing time increased by 11 minutes, with six of those minutes stemming from TV-connected devices.

In addition to video, 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.

Time Spent with Social Media

The advertising opportunity

Well, here’s the big ticket item: Advertising. TV and radio advertising are common. However, the rise in traffic (duration) directly translates to a great advertising opportunity for businesses on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram has about 25 million business accounts but only 2 million active advertisers. That gap could start reducing in the near future as businesses realize the opportunity ahead of them.

And although YouTube doesn’t disclose revenues, analysts frequently estimate that the platform makes about US$15 billion in revenues a year, and will touch US$27 billion by 2020.

For platforms and for businesses, the rising trend in content consumption represents a great opportunity. With a fall in prices of devices and a rise in internet connectivity, the market is only going to get more exciting in the future.