clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

You are still watching a staggering amount of TV every day

Unless you are a millennial. Then you’re only watching an enormous amount of TV every day.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

TV! It’s cooked! Toast! Doneso. Ready for the fork.

Except not yet, because Americans are still watching a ton of TV, every day. For some of them, it’s the equivalent of a full-time job.

The average American watches an astonishing 4.3 hours of TV a day, according to a new report from Nielsen. Add in DVR time, and that number gets up to 5 hours a day.

That is a lot of hours! If you are, say, me, you can imagine stringing together a five-hour day if you think about an HBO Sunday night plus some sports during the day. But that’s one day!

And yes, that usage is shrinking over time — a couple of years ago, Americans were averaging five hours and 23 minutes a day.

You can see where this is going: See that orange bar on the right of the graph? The one that used to be 47 minutes in 2014 and is now up to one hour and 39 minutes? That’s media consumption on your phone. Where you may very well be reading this.

You can also see where this trend line is going when you slice it up by age. Teenagers and twentysomethings watch much less TV than older folks do. Americans aged 18 to 24, for instance, watch a mere 16.2 hours a week — a much more comprehensible 2.3 hours a day — while Americans who are 35 or older watch double that in a week.

And when you start looking at change over time, it becomes even more screamingly obvious. Those same 18-to-24-year-olds, for instance, have shaved nearly two hours a week from their TV time in the last year alone. (Hi, Snapchat! I hear you’re pretty cool. My 6-year-old is teaching me how to use you. See you soon!)

So, to sum up: Young people watch much less TV than older people, and they are watching less every year. But! Young people still watch a ton of TV, and Americans as a whole watch so much TV that it is literally unbelievable.

So, TV is going to be around for a while longer.

Also, how about Cersei last night, am I right?


This article originally appeared on