Survey: Mobile Time Outpacing TV Time for U.S. Adults

Source: eMarketer

For the first time ever, U.S. adults will spend more time in 2019 using smartphones and other mobile devices than they will spend watching TV, according to new research from eMarketer.

The New York-based research firm is forecasting that American adults will spend an average of 3 hours and 43 minutes (3:43) on mobile devices daily, excluding voice time, while they will spend 3:35 watching TV. In 2018, the average time spent on mobile was 3:35, with TV clocking in at 3:44.

“We’ve expected that mobile would overtake TV for a while, but seeing it happen is still surprising,” said eMarketer principal analyst Yoram Wurmser. “As recently as 2014, the average U.S. adult watched TV nearly 2 hours longer than they spent on mobile devices.”

Most of that time (70 percent) will be spent on smartphones, reaching 2:33 this year, a 9-minute increase over 2018. Smartphone usage will continue to account for most of that mobile consumption — but the firm also predicts growth will slow, increasing by just 3.4% in 2021.

Despite declining time spent watching TV, digital video time, which includes streaming video via any device (excluding video on social networks), is essentially directly replacing traditional TV time, according to eMarketer. Adults’ TV time will drop 9 minutes this year, while digital video will jump by 8 minutes. In 2020, TV time will drop another 6 minutes, and video time will increase by 6 minutes.

“While time spent watching traditional TV is declining, the networks already monetize their content that is viewed on OTT [over-the-top] services like Netflix or Hulu,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Eric Haggstrom. “Soon-to-be-released streaming services from Disney, WarnerMedia, and NBCU may allow them to monetize their content more effectively. Whether or not these services gain traction and replace lost audiences remains to be seen.”

Just over 40% of U.S. adults’ daily digital video viewing is done on mobile devices — 40 minutes this year and growing — although video is only the third-biggest driver of growth in mobile app engagement. The mobile app activity taking up the most time is listening to digital audio (53 minutes per day), followed by social networking (43 minutes per day).

germay0653's picture

While it's an interesting statistical comparison, the use cases for each type of device are vastly different. If you compared a combination of (TV and non-mobile type computing) to mobile devices it might have more meaning as the use cases would be more in alignment.