NEW YORK (Reuters) - One-third of U.S. television viewers watch broadcasts outside their home, a study released on Wednesday shows, suggesting that a larger audience than thought is tuning into TV at bars, work, at a friend’s house or the gym.
The Arbitron Inc. study sheds more light on the TV viewing habits of Americans at a time when the industry is experiencing dramatic change.
The Internet, portable music players and other types of new media have widened the entertainment choices for Americans, creating competition for the $70 billion in advertising money the TV industry attracts a year.
At the same time, TV viewing habits are changing, thanks to the introduction of digital video recorders and online broadcasts.
As a result, advertisers have been pressing for more information on how, when and where viewers watch television, and the Arbitron study shows more viewing takes place outside the home every week than previously believed.
Rather than people who just catch a glimpse of a show of sporting event at a bar, the study found that audiences often dedicate hours to watching programs outside the home.
“There are significantly more away-from-home TV viewers than previously thought,” said Laura Ivey, one of the project leaders for Arbitron. “It’s not all incidental.”
“People gather with friends and family to watch television” outside the home, she said, adding that for advertisers and network executives “these are valuable people worth looking at.”
According to the study by Arbitron, a media and marketing research firm, those who watch TV away from home spend an average of about 2 hours doing so in a typical day.
It also found nearly as many people viewed a local news broadcast or an episode of a TV series away from home as viewed a sporting event.
“This is not the throwaway, disposable audience some may think,” she said.
The study was based on a survey of 2,506 people between November 17 and December 19, 2006.
By age group, 64 percent of 12-17 year olds watched TV away from home at least once per week; 49 percent of 18-24 year olds watched away from home; and about 23 percent of those aged 55 and older watched away from home.
Of all respondents, more watched TV in someone else’s home than anywhere else, at 25 percent. By comparison, 11 percent watched at a restaurant or bar and 7 percent at work.