Americans still watch a lot of television, with nearly nine out of ten watching on a weekly basis. American adults watch live television for an average of over four hours a day, but there is wide variation across demographic groups. Although there is a lot of interest in online multichannel video services, only 3% of television homes in the United States currently subscribe to them, while 64% have at least one online subscription video-on-demand service.

The Nielsen Total Audience Report for the first quarter of 2018 provides an expanded view of media usage based on cross-platform data. As such it is not directly comparable to previous reports. What is clear is that with more viewing options, Americans are watching as much, if not more, television and video than ever.

As the Nielsen report observes, consumers are faced with more device choices now than at any point in history, and every decision on what to watch or how to watch it comes at the expense of other content or delivery mechanisms.

Live and time-shifted television is still viewed by 88% of people in the United States on a weekly basis.

American adults still watch live television for an average of 4 hours and 10 minutes a day, with a further 36 minutes time-shifted. That falls to 2 hours and 17 minutes of live and time-shifted viewing for those aged 18-34, and rises to 7 hours and 24 minutes for those aged over 65.

Across all adults, overall video use with a television set, computer video or using video on smartphones and tablets, adds up to almost six hours a day, an increase of 11 minutes a day on the previous quarter.

Live and time-shifted television accounts for 43% of that time, falling to 26% for those aged 18-34, and rising to 60% among those aged over 65.

What is striking is that, according to Nielsen, average video viewing on other devices is still relatively low. It says that among adults aged 18-34, the use of video focused apps or web sites on a smartphone averages at 1 hour 45 minutes a week, which is just 15 minutes a day.

Average daily viewing, United States, 2018 Q1, by age group. Source: Nielsen.

3% of television homes in the United States subscribe to a virtual multichannel video programming distributor, like Sling TV or DIRECTV NOW. 15% of these also subscribe to a traditional cable television service, while 36% receive television over the air and 49% are broadband only households.

Multichannel homes, including cable, satellite, telco and online television services, still make up 81% of all households. They tend to watch more television, at over 6 hours a day, than those with only over-the air-television. Those with an online multichannel service watch significantly less, at 4 hours and 20 minutes a day.

Nielsen estimates 64% of homes in American have subscription video-on-demand services, up from 58% a year previously, with over a third of them having more than one such service. It rises to 76% among Asian American homes, with almost half of them having access to two or more services.

38% of American television homes have an enabled smart television, while 67% have some form of internet connected television, either through an integrated connection, disc player, games console, or other media device.

1 out of 10 minutes of television use in these homes is streaming to the television, based on measurement by the Nielsen streaming meter in a representative subset of homes capable of streaming to the television set. This rises to 23% of total usage of television among those aged 12-17, followed by 18% for those aged 18-34.

Nielsen also estimates that around 4% of homes, or over 4 million households, do not have television, although only 30% of them do not have a television set. A quarter of non-television homes say they watch television programming on their computer, while a fifth say they do not watch any television.

The quarterly Total Audience Report, complete with summary data tables, is available from the Nielsen web site.