Study: Almost Half of Americans Say They Can't Find Something Good to Watch on TV

Illustration by: Chris Madden

Between 2010 and 2016, mobile viewing has surged 85 percent while viewing on fixed-screen TVs has declined 14 percent, according to a new study.

There's more TV available and consumers are paying more for the privilege, but 44 percent of viewers in the U.S. complain that there is nothing worth watching, according to a massive study released Thursday.

The average person spends 23 minutes per day trying to find something good to watch on broadcast TV and will dedicate 1.3 years of their lives changing channels and studying their on-screen guides, according to Ericsson ConsumerLab's TV and Media 2016.

Ericsson surveyed 30,000 people in 24 countries and says its study represents the TV habits of more than 1 billion people worldwide.

The 44 percent of Americans who say they have trouble finding worthy shows to watch represents a big uptick over last year, when 36 percent had a similar complaint.

Ironically, though, consumers are watching more TV than they were a year — or several years — ago, but they're doing it on their mobile devices. 

Between 2010 and 2016, mobile viewing has surged 85 percent, while viewing on fixed-screen TVs has declined 14 percent, according to the study.

Users spend even more time searching for VOD shows to watch, but they rate those services higher than traditional TV, so they don't mind the time invested nearly as much as they do the time wasted looking for shows on linear television.

Consumers in the U.S. spend about $20 per month on VOD, up 60 percent since 2012, and they spend $71 a month on their regular TV service, up from $54 four years ago.

Meanwhile, 40 percent say they watch YouTube daily, with 10 percent watching the Google-owned platform more than three hours per day.

"For consumers in general and millennials in particular, being able to watch on the smartphone is key," says Ericsson senior adviser Zeynep Ahmet.

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