Report: Linear TV Remained Dominant Form of TV Viewership in 2019

Despite declines in viewership, linear television remains the dominant form of TV viewing for consumers across the United States and other major economies, according to data from Omdia.

Linear TV accounted for 63% of television viewing in the U.S. in 2019, compared with 16% for long-form viewing and 12% for DVR time-shifted content. Linear TVs’ share of viewing declined from 67% in 2018. Similar trends occurred in most of the other countries tracked by Omdia. The report covered TV viewership trends in the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Average linear TV viewing time declined in all but one market, with decreases ranging from four minutes in Italy to 19 minutes in the U.S. The Netherlands was the only market to not see a decline in linear viewing, remaining unchanged from last year.

“Although traditional linear television viewing is undergoing a broad-based decline, this form of entertainment remains central to most people’s viewing habits,” analyst Rob Moyser said in a statement. “As a result, linear still accounts for the majority of viewing in all countries tracked. In some countries, linear still strongly dominates viewing, totaling 90% in Italy, for example.”

On the non-linear front, online long-form video is the main platform driving growth in 2019. Online long-form was a key area of growth across all markets, driven largely by online subscription video services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Growth of online long-form video content in 2019 ranged from 55% in Australia to 10% in the Netherlands.

Growth in over-the-top subscribers, D2C launches, and a rise in connected TV and pay-TV partnerships are fueling the increase in online, long-term video viewing.

However, the fastest-growing segment of the non-linear view market is social media. Social media viewing across the countries tracked increased by 10 minutes in 2019, a growth rate that surpassed all other forms of non-linear television video. The U.S. led social media viewing, with 49.3 minutes in 2019. The advance of social media was partly propelled by the massive growth of Chinese video-sharing service TikTok.

“TikTok’s success was one of the breakout stories of 2019, with the social media app growing at historic rates,” Moyser said. “This rate of increase was so huge it quickly became the most popular social media platform for video viewing in Germany and the second most popular app in three other northern European countries: The United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands.”

Time spent viewing video content on social media platforms increased by 10 minutes in 2019 to an average of 41 minutes per-person per-day across the eight markets analyzed. In comparison, all other forms of non-linear viewing increased by a cumulative of seven minutes over the year.

Other developments noted by the report include:

  • Average total daily viewing time for the markets analyzed rose to 306 minutes per-person, per-day in 2019, an increase of four minutes year-on-year.
  • TV viewing saw a massive rise in consumption in March and April 2020 following the implementation of lockdown measures across the countries covered. Italy had the highest total for viewing time in Europe in March at five hours and 46 minutes.
  • Italians spent 346 minutes a day in front of the TV screen in March 2020, an increase of 34.1 percent on the same period last year, the highest total for viewing time in Europe.

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