By Haddon Libby

According to the Total Audience Report from Nielsen, four in five Americans have access to traditional TV.  Only 62% of Americans between 18 and 34 watch traditional TV.  Traditional TV is what you would get from DirecTV, Spectrum or Dish.  Traditional TV’s poor showing with this key demographic group means that advertisers increasingly siphon dollars toward more targeted Internet options like Facebook or Google.

Marketing information service, Marketing Charts points out in a recent report that 89% of 18-34 year-olds usage of the Internet is 2.5 times that of traditional TV viewership at 1:12 hours each day.

Traditional TV viewership amongst 12-17 year-olds is the weakest of all demographic groups with 53 minutes of viewing time each day.  As Marketing Charts points out, this demographic group was watching ten hours of traditional TV per day only three years ago.

Guess which age group watches the most TV?

If you said Americans over 65 years of age, you are correct.  Senior Americans watch an astounding 6:39 hours per day!

Time on TV connected devices for Seniors is 37 minutes per day.  For comparison, 18-34 year olds spend three times that time on TV connected devices.  A TV connected device would be an over-the-top service like Netflix or Disney+, a gaming console or a DVD.

The next heaviest consumers of traditional TV are 50-64 year olds at 5 hours per day with 1 hour on TV connected devices.  The 35-49 year old group watches 2:43 hours of television and another 1:18 hours on TV connected devices

The Total Audience Report is from Nielson, the preeminent ratings service for audience share.

Nielsen estimates that the United States has 121 million television homes at present. Within these homes, there are 308 million viewers.  In a nation with about 332 million folks, the rest are either under two years of age or one of the very few without access to television.

Season ratings for the programming on those traditional TV source recently finalized.  The NFL held three of the top rated programs for the recently completed season.  Sunday Night Football on NBC ranked first with 16.6 million viewers on average, Thursday Football on Fox at 13.4 million and Monday Night Football on ESPN at 11.3 million.

The top-rated program was NCIS on CBS with 12.73 million viewers with The Equalizer in second with 12.69 million.  CBS took the sixth, seventh and ninth spots with FBI (11.1), 60 Minutes (10.9) and Blue Bloods (10.2).  NBC’s preoccupation with crises in Chicago landed them in the eighth, tenth and eleventh spots with Chicago Fire (10.3), Chicago Med (9.9) and Chicago PD (9.8).

Overall, the most watched network was CBS with 6.2 million viewers.  As the CBS audience skews older and older Americans watch more traditional TV, it makes sense that this is America’s most watched network.  NBC was second at 5.2 million, ABC at 4.6 million and Fox with 4.2 million.

Advertisers target the 18–49-year-old demographic.  Based on this criterion, Fox had the greatest share with 1.37 million viewers.  NBC was a close second at 1.31 million, CBS at 1.24 million and ABC at 1.17 million.

These ratings show how far traditional television networks have fallen as over-the-top streaming services have promulgated.  Nevertheless, traditional TV still captures a 62% share of viewer time using their televisions with streaming services at a little less than half of that level while gamers represent nearly a 10% share.  While streaming services only represent 3 of every 10 viewing minutes today, analysts believe steaming will grow to half of all viewership by the end of next year.

Haddon Libby is the Founder and Managing Director of Winslow Drake Investment Management.  For more information, please visit