News, TV

A Fragile Future For Traditional TV

Traditional TV

Traditional TV

The reign of traditional TV as king of media consumption is changing fast. This includes live as well as DVR, time-shifted viewing as well. According to a recent Nielsen report titled the “Total TV Audience Report—Q1 2017”, traditional TV is losing its audience. Generally speaking, older Americans spend twice as much time viewing TV than they do browsing the web or using apps.


Young Americans between the ages of 18-24 are watching less and less traditional TV. This trend has continued since 2011. In the first quarter of 2017, this segment of the population watched 40% less traditional TV.

TV is still the most-watched screen in the house for just about everyone else. But this paradigm shift to mobile screens will likely continue.

Nielsen Report

The Nielsen report looked at Generation Z at 26%, Millennials at 22%, Generation X at 20%, Baby Boomers at 24%, and the Greatest Generation at 9%.  Generation Z and Millennials make up almost half of the total TV homes.

A more granular look shows that as a group, 18-24-year-olds viewed about 2 hours and 19 minutes per day during Q1 of 2016. This was reduced to 2 hours and 4 minutes per day during Q1 of 2017.  Since 2011 this group’s traditional TV viewing dropped by almost 12 hours per week. The viewing TV audience is shrinking and there is no indication this trend will change.


An increase of streaming services making their way into the home on set-top boxes also has a lot to do with this. There is an obvious preference to watch what you want when you want as opposed to needing to sit in front of the TV at a specific date and time to enjoy a show. These devices along with our smartphones and tablets are changing people’s viewing habits.

Is this a good thing? Probably not for the networks but they are streaming content as well.  All the major networks have apps that allow you to stream your favorite shows. If not when the show first airs, then shortly after. I can’t see the viewing audience going back to traditional TV so we will likely see this trend continue for years to come.

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Carmine Delligatti-Drummer, former Support Manager for Deneba Software, ACD Systems, Mareware, Inc. and Swiss Made Marketing. Avid technology blogger and Managing Editor of