Lower-income US households spend more time with media devices | Media Analysis | Business
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The common axiom that says waste not, want not rings especially true when it comes to the media diet of US consumers, says media ratings and research firm Nielsen.


The firm’s research found that users in lower-income households spend more time with every device that they use than high-income households do.

Moreover this was not just true with traditional devices, but of newer ones as well, the firm found in its latest Total Audience Report

By contrast, people with higher-incomes tend to have more access to tech advancements at their collective fingertips — be it that trendy new tablet or a streaming service with a much-ballyhooed programme — consumers that make less money actually spend more time with the media they spend their hard-earned money on.

“The proportion of usage going to each media platform is partly explained by the ownership of new devices and services, and partly by the ways adults with different incomes use these devices and services,” the firm said. “Not surprisingly, higher-income households own more different kinds of media devices and subscribe to more services. This is particularly evident with newer devices and services such as smart TVs, multimedia devices, tablets and SVOD.”

The report looked at 10 different devices/services and found that penetration followed the same pattern in every instance: Homes with higher incomes had more devices/services.

For example, in August 2015, 38% of adults in homes with an income of less than $25,000 per year had access to a video game console. In that same period, 58% of adults in homes making more than $75,000 boasted a console within their confines. The report found that adult users in lower-income households that actually have these devices or services have greater usage.

“We expected high-income households to own more devices, but we did not anticipate that low-income consumers of all devices had greater usage,” says Glenn Enoch, SVP, Audience Insights, Nielsen. “The media behaviour of low-income adults may be concentrated in fewer devices, resulting in more minutes of usage for the devices they own, while high-income adults distribute their time among more devices.”

The report also looked at how the economics of connecting with media played out over multicultural lines and found that money is a great equaliser. Adults in each income group have the same pattern of ownership of devices/services regardless of race or ethnicity and usage plays out in a similar manner for all income levels.

For example, when looking at adult users of multimedia devices, black homes making under $50,000 averaged more than 33 monthly hours in the third quarter of 2015. Hispanic homes notched about 27 hours, and Asian-American homes had about 41 hours. In homes of these same ethnicities that made over $50,000, the monthly time spent with multimedia devices shrinks to 20 hours (black), nearly 19 hours (Hispanic) and 25 hours (Asian-American).

“All media platforms have value in reaching consumers with content and advertising, but consumers differ in the way that they use these platforms throughout the day,” Nielsen said in the report. “We have consistently reported the continued strength of TV and radio and the growth of digital media, but here we are showcasing the greater share of radio and PC usage during the day giving way to TV and TV-connected devices at night, and the consistent delivery of mobile media at all hours."