A quarter of a television minutes viewed in the United States in the second quarter of 2020 came from online services. A quarter of that viewing came from those aged over 55. However, that group also watches a considerable amount of live and time-shifted television.

The Nielsen Streaming Meter is now used to measure online viewing in a subset of nearly 1,000 streaming capable homes from the National TV panel. In the second quarter of 2020, this data showed that streaming comprises a quarter of all television minutes viewed in the United States.

Of this, Netflix accounted for just over a third of online viewing, followed by YouTube with around a fifth. Hulu made up 11% and Amazon a further 8%, with the recently launched Disney+ contributing 4%, leaving 23% to other services.

Nielsen does not present these proportions in terms of actual minutes viewed, but it follows that Netflix accounted for about a twelfth of television viewing, or 8.5%, in those homes capable of using online video services, based on a sample of 1,000 homes. That is clearly significant, although not perhaps as much as some might suggest.

The Nielsen data show that average streaming minutes rose by 75% between the second quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020.

Interestingly, those aged over 55 accounted for 26% of streaming minutes in the second quarter of 2020, compared to 19% in the same quarter the previous year. To quote the Nielsen report “this represents a significant shift among what was already the heaviest television viewing group. It may have taken them longer to embrace the technology, but now that they have, there is no indication they are going to give up streaming in the future.”

Looking back to the first quarter of 2020, Nielsen reports that adults spent an average of 37 hours and 37 minutes a week watching television, of which 29 hours and 53 minutes was live or time-shifted television. That is still an average of 4 hour 16 minutes a day watching live or time-shifted television.

Notably, television viewing was lowest among those aged 12-17, at an average of 1 hour and 5 minutes a day. For those aged 18-34 it was one hour 37 minutes a day. Among those aged over 55, it rose to 7 hours and 13 minutes. That is still a considerable volume of viewing.