NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

What Live TV Viewing Habits Say About American Consumers

What Live TV Viewing Habits Say About American Consumers

live tv viewing habits

Today's TV viewers are a mixed bag when it comes to their preferences for watching live TV on their own or in a group, as well as when it comes to what factors influence their decisions to do so, according to a recent Morning Consult poll. With the explosion of digital devices, streaming, and apps, it's easier than ever to pull out a phone or tablet to keep up with the news during work breaks, to catch that big game during the train commute home as the action unfolds in real-time, or to see the latest episode of Pose in the airport lobby before a flight. As the digital era gains momentum, so do people's schedules and the ability to fit in work, entertainment, and social time thanks to the flexibility that technology and fast-internet now afford many Americans and their busy yet fulfilling lives. 

60% of people say they are more likely to watch the news alone than with a group... 

In NCTA's survey, 60% of adults responded that they are more likely to watch the news alone. Additionally, 40% said they are more likely to watch a scheduled aired TV series alone. Sporting events, on the other hand, drew higher preferences for watching in a group. While 41% reported they are more likely to watch a sporting event with a group of people, 25% said they would watch it alone. 

41% of adults are more likely to watch sports live with a group while 25% are more likely to watch alone... 

As far as the influential factors that drive people to watch a TV show or live event are concerned, it appears that worries about spoilers are not an issue in their decision making. Only 24% of people said spoilers are a factor, while 62% said they are not. 

Social media participation is also not a strong factor that motivates people to watch live TV programming. Only 23% of adults said it is important to them to converse on social media channels about a show or event. However, it will be interesting to see if this trend grows over time, as younger generations tend to seek out those social channels to post opinions and questions during live events more so than older adults do (35% of 18-34 year-olds reported that this is important to them). Overall, 21%—1 in 5 adults—currently engage in an online conversation during a show or event in real-time. 

TV viewing habits are important to track as they indicate people's preferences on how and what kind of content, including live TV, they wish to consume. America's cable networks are always working hard to stay ahead of consumer demand by producing numerous programs, and offering various ways for people to watch and engage with the rich and diverse content that they air. As time goes on, TV's new era appears to fit in quite well with the American lifestyle.