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Millennials Spend More Time Watching TV on Other Devices

This marks the first time any other device has eclipsed TV for TV watching for any segment of the viewing population.


The big-screen TV is losing its cachet.

A new study from Deloitte finds that teens and young twentysomethings spend more time watching movies and television shows on their computers, smartphones and tablets than they do on their TV screens.

“The idea that TV is only watched on a TV isn’t true anymore,” said Gerald Belson, vice chairman of the firm’s U.S. media and entertainment practice.

Deloitte surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. consumers about their media consumption habits and technology use as part of its annual Digital Democracy Survey (PDF).

Although viewing habits have been changing as the number of screens in the typical home multiply, this marks the first time these devices have eclipsed TV for any segment of the population, Belson said.

“It’s an indicator of how the market is reacting to the introduction of technologies,” Belson said. “Clearly, a large segment of the population is quite comfortable using any number of devices to watch content. The speed with which it’s happening takes some people by surprise.”

The TV is still king of the castle in most American homes, with Generation X, Baby Boomers and mature viewers saying they spent the majority of their time watching movies and TV shows on the more familiar living room screen. Even older millennials, those aged 25 to 30, say they tune in to the TV more than half of the time.

“The fact that we have some demographics watching television, but not on TV, is significant,” Belson said.

This shift has profound implications for networks, and Nielsen, which are working to find ways to measure TV viewing across multiple screens. Nielsen announced plans to begin incorporating mobile into its traditional ratings with the 2014-15 season.

The Deloitte survey confirmed that most viewers split their attention between watching TV and glancing at another screen to browse the Web, read email, send text messages or use a social network. Some 86 percent of U.S. consumers said they are multitaskers — though few are turning to their smartphones or tablets to get information related to the program they’re watching.

“The ‘second screen’ hasn’t found its sweet spot yet,” Belson said, using the TV industry’s term for mobile applications tied to TV offerings. “It’s not compelling enough to keep people doing it.”

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