Research: Who Watches What? U.S. TV Trends by Ethnicity

How and what Americans watch on TV varies to some degree based on their ethnicity. The Nielsen Company takes a look at TV viewing and usage trends in 2010.


TV Usage and Time Spent

In November 2010, African-Americans used their TVs an average of 7 hours 12 minutes each day–far above the total U.S. average of 5 hours 11 minutes. Asians used their TVs the least, just 3 hours and 14 minutes on average. African-Americans also used DVD players and video game consoles more than average. Another fact to note: the VCR has virtually disappeared for all groups.

More than one-third (38%) of American homes had a DVR in November 2010. White homes had more than average (40%) and the highest usage while Hispanics had the fewest (30%). Across all households (Table right–middle), White households’ primetime usage increased by 5.0 rating points with DVR playback, more than any other group. Asian homes had usage growth of 3.1 rating points, while African-American and Hispanic households increased their usage by more than 2 rating points with the additional DVR playback. These increases more than double when cut back to DVR households.

Total Day TV and Peripheral Usage by Race and Origin (Daily HH:MM)

Prime Time (Mon-Sun 8p-11p) Timeshifted Ratings by Race & Origin


Program Rankings

A look at the top ten programs across broadcast and cable by race and origin for people age 18-49 in November 2010 provides a glimpse of how viewing varies. But one thing is common across ethnic groups: NFL football unites us as a nation. Broadcast airings of regular season games occupied all ten spots for African-Americans and half of the top ten for Whites and Asians. Expanding the snapshot to cable, ESPN’s NFL Regular Season took the top spot for Whites, African-Americans and Asians and second place with Hispanics.

Top 10 Programs (watched by Hispanics)

(click here to enlarge)


Ethnicity by Market

The top three markets for the Total U.S.

— New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago

— Rank among the top ten for each break.

Other findings of note include:

• Boston is the 7th largest overall U.S. market but does not rank among the top ten markets for African-Americans, Hispanics, or Asians.

• Minneapolis ranks 15th overall but seventh among White markets. Ninety percent of Minneapolis’ TV households are White.

• Atlanta is the second largest African-American market, although it ranks 8th overall. Over 28% of Atlanta’s DMA is African-American.

• Harlingen, Texas ranks as the 87th DMA in the U.S., but is the 10th largest Hispanic market. Hispanic homes account for 84% of Harlingen’s DMA.

• Honolulu is the 4th largest market in terms of Asian households, although it ranks as the 72nd largest market in the U.S. Half of Honolulu’s TV homes are Asian.

Source: Nielsen