Americans love to watch TV. On average, 55% of people spend one to four hours each day watching TV, and 22% watch four+ hours daily. Whether they’re watching traditional TV, cable, or streaming, they’re tuning in to their favorite programs.
But who is watching what? Network and cable TV remain popular, accounting for 64% of Americans’ TV watching time, while 26% of time was spent on streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, and 8%, of time was spent on video-on-demand, streaming from cable set-top boxes, gaming and watching DVDs.
Boomers love their linear TV
Boomers is the biggest audience watching linear broadcast TV, as adults 50+—the Boomer and Gen X generations—dominate linear TV viewing. Of this 50+ population, 95% watch TV. Adults aged 55+ were 16% more likely than the average adult to watch broadcast TV on a weekly basis.
Adults ages 35-54 spent up to 26% of their total TV time watching traditional TV.
Young adults, ages 18-34, are the generation that’s least likely to watch linear TV. While this demographic represents nearly one-quarter (23%) of the TV Universe in terms of minutes watched, this population spent only 9% of their total watch time tuning into linear TV.
The youngest generation, ages 2-17, accounts for about one-fifth (21%) of time spent watching TV, but they spend significantly more time watching streaming TV, and only 7% of total minutes with linear TV.
Of those who watch broadcast TV, 60% are white, 56% male, 44% female, 22% Latino and 21% Black.
Cable viewership has fallen
The number of Americans who say they watch cable or satellite television has fallen from 76% in 2015 to 56% in 2021.
A recent survey showed that 56% of US adults watch cable or satellite TV, but Boomers are the only generation that watches cable TV in significant numbers. Among those ages 55+, 38% spend more time watching content on cable than on any other platform, compared with 21% of Gen Xers, 16% of millennials, and only 9% of Gen Z adults.
Notably, many young adults don’t watch cable or satellite TV. Younger demographics are more likely than their elders to have never gotten cable or satellite TV at home. They say they don’t subscribe to cable TV because they can find any content they want online.
The audiences watching cable are 80% white, 57% male, 43% female, 13% Black and 3% Latino.
Streaming soared during the pandemic
The way Americans watched TV changed drastically in 2020 due to the pandemic. By June 2020, 48% of US online adults subscribed to at least one streaming service.
When streaming, adults ages 18-34 are most likely watching Disney+ (23% share of total minutes) or Amazon Prime (16%).
The youngest generation (ages 2-17) spend 44% of their TV minutes watching Disney+.
Demographics of those who stream are 75% white, 57% male, 43% female, 18% Black and 9% Latino.
As the TV environment evolves, brands have more advertising choices than ever before, it’s essential to have experienced, knowledgeable experts to deploy your media buys and help guide your decisions. Contact us to distribute your ads so you can successfully reach your target audiences.