Updated November 16, 2015

Television Statistics: 23 Mind-Numbing Facts to Watch

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Whoa, we spend that many hours watching TV a day? Do we have a TV addiction? Read on for 23 mind-numbing statistics on television.

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With so many viewing options and hundreds of channels to choose from, it's hard to imagine that there was ever a time when Americans didn't devote a significant chunk of their day to watching TV. Nowadays, you can tune in at any time of day or night for a veritable smorgasbord of programming, from sitcoms and dramas to reality shows and documentaries.

How much time we actually spend in front of the TV isn't something that the average person usually gives much thought to, but it's a keen focus for advertisers, marketing researchers and of course, the people who produce TV shows. The CreditDonkey team has been hard at work creating a list of TV-watching statistics that might just make you rethink the role that television plays in your day-to-day life.


The amount of time that the average person spends watching TV each day has seen an uptick in recent years, and we got a bit of shock when we saw the numbers in black and white. If you're wondering how your TV-watching habits compare to the average person, they may not be as different as you think.

1. How many people watch TV each day?
Television is a major focal point of daily life for many Americans, and as many as 95% include TV watching as part of their leisure time.

2. How many hours do we watch per day?
On average, the typical American views just over 5 hours of TV every single day, the majority of which is live programming. About 30 minutes of that time is spent watching shows that were previously recorded.

3. How many hours do we watch over a lifetime?
Based on figures from 2014, the average person watches about 141 hours of TV per month, or 1,692 hours per year. Assuming you reach the average U.S. life expectancy of 78, that's about 15 years of your life you're going to spend watching TV.

4. What's the average number of TVs per household?
The average American home features 2.5 TV sets and 75% of households have one located in the living room. The master bedroom is the second most popular place for a TV, with 64% of sets located here.

5. How many homes have four or more?
These days, TVs can be found in just about every room of the house. Thirty-one percent of American households own four sets or more.

6. What's the most popular time of day for watching?
Prime time is when the majority of viewers are tuning in, with nearly 2 hours of daily TV watching taking place between 8 and 10 pm. Daytime TV airing between 11 am and 4 pm comes in second, with people watching about 1 hour and 40 minutes on average.

7. How does TV watching in the U.S. compare to other countries?
Compared to the global average of 25 hours per week, Americans are spending the most time watching TV. Folks in Japan tune in the least, averaging just two hours every day.


We were curious about who's watching all that TV, so we checked out some basic demographic statistics to get a picture of what the average viewer looks like.

8. What age group watches the most TV?
Surprisingly, senior citizens spend the most time glued to the boob tube. On average, TV watching for those 65 and up consumes 47 hours and 13 minutes of their time each week.

9. Are men or women watching more?
Women are more likely to be parked in front of the TV on any given day, watching on average nearly 40 minutes more than their male counterparts.

10. Does race affect TV watching habits?
African Americans watch more TV than any other racial or ethnic group, clocking in at just over 200 hours per month, compared to 117 hours for Hispanics and just 82 hours for Asian viewers.


The Internet is chock full of websites where you can catch up on all your favorite programming, but many people still stick with traditional viewing methods. The next set of data we looked at dealt with how people watch their shows and which services are most popular.

11. How many Americans pay for cable or satellite TV?
While the number of subscribers has declined slightly in recent years, roughly 100 million U.S. households still have some kind of pay TV service, such as TimeWarner, Comcast or Direct TV.

12. How many watch TV online?
Approximately 25% of TV watchers are catching their favorite shows via their smartphone or tablet; 38% of online viewers say YouTube is their top pick for getting their daily fix.

13. How many people watch via Netflix?
Netflix has become a heavy hitter in the TV watching world, with roughly 57 million people using the service worldwide. Users stream nearly 47 billion hours of TV shows and movies each month.

14. How many choose Hulu?
Though its popularity pales in comparison to Netflix, Hulu is making a name for itself in the streaming TV services realm, with roughly 6 million subscribers as of 2014.

15. What about Amazon Prime?
While Amazon has been cagey about releasing hard numbers on just how many people subscribe to its Prime service (which includes streaming video), estimates put the number of U.S. members at 30 to 40 million, with the global total reaching 50 million.


Experts will tell you that TV rots the brain and it can be especially damaging for kids who are tuning in for hours at a time. We decided to include a rundown on how often kids are watching TV and what kind of impact it has on their overall well-being.

16. How much TV are kids watching?
While they're not watching as much as their adult counterparts, kids aged 2 to 11 spend nearly 26 hours a week with their eyes on the television. Teens and tweens aged 12 to 17 watch slightly less, totaling about 21 hours a week on average. That breaks down to roughly 3.7 and 3 hours per day, respectively.

17. How many TV acts of violence do kids view by age 18?
Studies estimate that the typical American child will view 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence on TV by the time they graduate high school. Kids' cartoon shows display up to 20 violent acts every hour alone.

18. Does watching TV affect academic performance?
Pediatric experts recommend that younger kids watch no more than one to two hours of TV per day. Research shows that for every hour beyond that limit, there's a 7% decrease in classroom engagement and a 6% drop in math achievement.

19. Does watching too much TV cause obesity?
Numerous researchers have attempted to prove a link between TV watching and weight gain. One study showed that among teens, those who watched the most tended to be about 14 pounds heavier on average.


There's nothing more frustrating than having your favorite show interrupted by a commercial, but that's how advertisers get their bread and butter. We chose to focus our final study measure on commercial viewing and how much cash companies are sinking into their TV ad campaigns.

20. How much time do we spend watching commercials?
An estimated 38 commercials air every minute across national TV, and the average viewer spends about 15 minutes out of every hour just watching ads. That adds up to more than an hour of total TV time each day.

21. How long is the average commercial?
More than 50% of television ads are 30 seconds long, while 44% clock in at just 15 seconds. Commercials totaling 60 seconds or more account for just 2% of all TV advertising.

22. How much is spent on TV advertising?
Advertisers spent a whopping $78 billion on TV ads in 2013, an increase of $14 billion over the previous four years. The average cost of a 30-second ad airing in primetime totaled $7,800.

23. What's the most expensive TV commercial ever made?
Even though car commercials tend to dominate TV advertising, it's actually a perfume spot that cost the most to make. In 2004, Chanel shelled out a stunning $33 million on a 2-minute ad featuring actors Nicole Kidman and Rodrigo Santoro.


Cutting the cord on your TV could be just the motivator you need to get up off the couch and start exercising or to read that stack of books that you've got piled up. That's easier said than done, though. Television, whether you love it or hate it, has become a staple of American life, and it doesn't look like it will be losing any popularity contests any time soon.

Sources and References:

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a tv comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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