Monday, August 17, 2015

Not Quite a Nielsen Family

Did you know that according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or two months of nonstop TV-watching per year)? This means that in 65 years, that same person will have spent nine years glued to the tube.

I’m proud to say that I’m below average, and possibly even in the silent minority. For years my husband and I have owned a single television. We do not have a television in our bedroom or watch television when we eat dinner. We record every program that we watch and fast forward through all the commercials. Unlike my friend Marion who leaves her television on all day for background noise, we turn the television on to watch a program and when the program is over, we turn it off.

Recently we upgraded our cable service and went from a DVR recorder to TiVo. The installer proudly reported that I could record up to four shows simultaneously while watching a fifth show. The only problem is I can’t find much to watch. Back when I was growing up, it seemed like there were a lot of great television shows. Some of my favorites were MASH, Hill Street Blues, and the Dick Van Dyke Show.

Today, it seems like the average season for a show has grown shorter and shorter. And reality television shows, which range from the banal to the really, really bad, have replaced most network programming.

For a while, Mike and I watched Breaking Bad on Netflix, long after the show had ended. This worked out well for us because we had several years’ worth of episodes to catch up on. Sometimes on the weekends we’d hold a Breaking Bad marathon.

I love Downton Abbey and I just watched the Season Finale. It seems ironic that the “2015 season” only consisted of nine episodes and the next season won’t start for another nine months! I’m not sure that I’ll even remember what happened when the new season starts.

I find these statistics fascinating:
  • Percentage of households that possess at least one television: 99
  • Number of TV sets in the average U.S. household: 2.24
  • Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66
  • Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes
  • Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66
  • Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion
  • Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49

Where do you fit in? How many televisions do you own? How many hours a week do you watch? What are your favorite programs? Do you think that you watch too much television?

This blog post was originally published at my workplace in March 2015.


  1. I will sit and watch TV with DH. I move a sewing machine into the living room, which means that I am getting some exercise getting up and down to go press. We only own one TV though. We like to watch Downton Abbey, The Murdoch Mysteries, Longmire. Netflix is great for finding new shows and watching marathons.

  2. I fall into the average group. I grew up with tv as an escape from a less than healthy family life. It is on less now that the shows are boring to me. I used to have in on in the background in the studio but increasingly have silence as my companion. I like some reality shows a lot, Project Runway, Amazing Race, Dancing with the stars People's Couch is the best. I miss many shows like Mad About you, Gillmore Girls, West Wing and it seems the shows now that I like are cancelled all too quickly. We are in the last seasons of Murdoch Mysteries on dvd, luckily Canada is still making that and the Fisher Murders are still going in Oz. Seasons are really short on BBC but they are good.