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Nielsen Reports Reveal Crazy Racial Differences in TV Time

The charts are mind-boggling and raise a lot of questions.
2 ¼ min

There is a fascinating bit of data revealed in a number of recent The Nielsen Company entertainment studies. While those in the entertainment and media industries may be aware of the discrepancies, the general public probably has no idea how different the entertainment habits are of different races of Americans. We certainly didn’t.

In the December 2014 “The Total Audience Report” we find this mind-blowing chart: 

If the font is too small to see on the chart above, it is showing the average monthly time spent in hours and then minutes on different types of entertainment by members of each race who are over the age of two. Yes, the chart is indicating that Black Americans spend an incredibly higher amount of time being entertained and watching TV than their Hispanic or Asian American peers.

Nielsen’s 3rd quarter 2015 “The Total Audience Report” doesn’t reproduce the same chart, but it does provide the numbers that tell the same fascinating story of racial groups spending very different amounts of time on entertainment and, especially, TV. (Please note, the chart below is hours per week, not hours per month like the chart above. Also, note that Nielsen didn't provide the numbers for Whites, but only the general population.)

According to Nielsen, the average American (all races) spends a little over 30 hours a week watching TV. The average Black American spends 44 hours a week watching TV (47% higher than the average), while Hispanic Americans only watch 26 hours of TV (13% less than the average) and Asian Americans only watch 16 (47% less than the average). The only sub-group of Americans who spend more time watching TV are those who are over the age of 65.

When it comes to gaming, it’s also interesting to note that Asian Americans seem to play significantly less on game consoles. The average of all Americans is to spend an hour and 45 minutes playing video games on a console a week. Black and Hispanic Americans seem to spend about the same amount of time playing video games on consoles. Asian Americans, though, spend significantly less time playing video games on a console, racking up only a little over an hour each week on average. Teens, of course, spend lots of time on video games. Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 spend an average of over 4 hours a week playing video games.

There are some other interesting data points in the chart as well as the rest of both studies. Overall, the results of Nielsen’s work pique a lot of questions. The big one is, "Why?!?"


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Devin Foley

Devin Foley

Devin is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Charlemagne Institute, which operates Intellectual Takeout, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and the Alcuin Internship. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College where he studied history and political science. Prior to co-founding Charlemagne Institute, he served as the Director of Development at the Center of the American Experiment, a state-based think tank in Minnesota.

Devin is a contributor to local and national newspapers, a frequent guest on a variety of talk shows, such as Minneapolis' KTLK and NPR's Talk of the Nation, and regularly shares culture and education insights presenting to civic groups, schools, and other organizations. In 2011, he was named a Young Leader by the American Swiss Foundation.

Devin and his wife have been married for eighteen years and have six children. When he's not working, Devin enjoys time with family while also relaxing through reading, horticulture, home projects, and skiing and snowboarding.

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