A new Nielsen study tracks changes in viewing behavior.

Photo by Jens Kreuter on Unsplash

Nielsen studies how we watch TV. A "state of the media" report out Monday from Nielsen highlights shifts in viewing patterns as the major networks this week unveil their new prime time lineups.

Among the highlights: 

  • DVRs remain popular, now in about half of homes, but viewers use them selectively. While dramas represent 37% of prime time viewing, they account for 62% of time-shifted viewing. Comedy playback is proportionate to its viewership, but sports (as expected) accounts for just 7% of playback but 31% of overall viewing.
  • African Americans, long the most frequent TV viewers, also watch leading streaming services more often. The group watches an average of 12½ hours on Netflix each month and 10½ hours on Hulu. (Whites watched Hulu an average of less than six hours.) But Asians were the most frequent users of YouTube, with about seven hours, compared with 2½ for whites.
  • Sunday and Monday are the two most popular nights of television, with an average of 125 million and 120 million people, respectively, using their TVs. Former "must-see" Thursdays rank fifth, with 112 million, and Saturday and Friday remain the least-watched.
  • If it seems like there are more commercials on TV, you're not imagining things. Fifteen-second spots now account for 44% of all commercials, up from 35% in 2005, while the traditional 30-second spots represent 53%, down from 58%.