How We've Been Watching TV Creates Ad Opportunities

watching TV

Show of hands: Who has been watching WAY more TV than they used to ever since last March? If you have, don’t be embarrassed. You’re in good company. Most of America, to be more exact. In fact, Americans have been spending so much more time watching TV that Nielsen has launched a new study: The Gauge.

How has America Been Watching TV?

The Gauge is Nielsen’s new monthly review of America’s TV viewing habits. In May 2021, The Gauge found that, “streaming usage across all television homes has climbed to 26% of all time spent on TV. Streaming and broadcast now account for half of television time, with usage split evenly between the two channels.” The only method Americans are using for TV viewing more than broadcasting and streaming is cable (39% of all time spent watching TV is spent on this medium).

Popular TV streaming services include:

  • Netflix: makes up 6% of total streaming viewing
  • YouTubeTV: 6%
  • Hulu: 3%
  • Prime Video: 2%
  • Disney+: 1%

Will These Viewing Habits Change?

You and your clients may think that Americans will spend less time watching TV now that the world is opening back up. However, that’s not likely to be the case. American consumers have come to love the TV shows that got them through their time social distancing. And during the pandemic, production of these shows was largely put on hold. The world opening back up also means that the filming of TV series and movies can start back up, meaning there will be even more TV content for consumers to watching going forward.

What are Consumers Watching?

According to AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel, 27.4% of U.S. adults are Heavy Television Watchers (those who watch a minimum of five hours of TV on a daily basis). Overall, when they’re watching TV, they’re likely tuning into their favorite types of programming. These programming types include:

  • Movies: 62% of Heavy Television Watchers say this is their favorite type of programming
  • Comedies: 50.4%
  • Dramas: 49.8%
  • Police/​Detective/​Mystery: 39.1%
  • Local Evening News (generally between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.): 38.4%

These viewers are also 87% more likely than the average consumer to say that daytime dramas (soap operas) are among their favorite types of TV programming.

When they’re watching TV, many Heavy Television Watchers are also tuning into sports. Their favorite sports to watch on TV include NFL football (43.7%), Major League Baseball (25.4%), and college football (25%).

Advertising on TV

If you want to know exactly how your client’s target customers are spending their time watching TV, you can check out their profiles on AudienceSCAN. No matter what they’re watching, the uptick in TV viewership presents a great opportunity for advertisers. Within the last year, 59.3% of Heavy Television Watchers took action after seeing a TV commercial on traditional channels and 39.9% were driven to action by streaming TV advertising.

Investing in TV ads is worth the time and money. Americans are watching TV more than they have in a while. Don’t let your client miss out on this trend while it lasts.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-​op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.