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Sue Feng,, 010-5912-9195

Shanghai, China – April.17, 2015– Nearly eight-in-ten people in China (78%) believe face-to-face interactions are being replaced with electronic ones, according to a new report released by Nielsen. Screen Wars: The Battle for Eye Space in a TV-Everywhere World examines the rapidly developing global digital video landscape and shows how consumers are adapting their viewing preferences to a new reality where three-quarter (86% in China) enjoy the freedom of being connected anywhere, anytime.  While the television is still the screen of choice for viewing most forms of video content in some countries, especially for the older generation, device proliferation and social-media interaction is shifting the power from the provider to the people.

The report shows how science and technology are dramatically affecting the way we interact with the world in the aspect of life, work and communication. Device proliferation and multipoint contact of information lead changes in the media industry. The mode of content output is switching from single channel to another, which makes information and media more fragmentized.

“Choice creates not only complexity, but also opportunity,” said Oliver Rust, Managing Director of Nielsen China. “Most important is understanding how viewing patterns are shifting towards the digital landscape, with greater adoption of smartphones and PC, and determining how best to reach these consumer in the most effective way.  The media industry must embrace the changing landscape and adapt strategies to fit with a new reality, offering engaging and relevant content that is easily accessible within the appropriate channels that the consumers are using. But for advertisers, how to make sure they digital ads reach their right audience effectively, meanwhile be able to manage the de-duplication of reach, is essential to help maximize the ROI of their advertising campaign online.”

The Nielsen Global Digital Landscape Survey polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries to understand how the changing digital landscape is affecting how, where and why we watch video programming. Video programming was defined as any type of content, such as TV, cable shows, professional video or user-generated content that is watched on a TV, PC, mobile device such as a phone, tablet or e-reader. The study also examines consumption preferences for video programming, including the devices most commonly used for selected genres and the devices used to view video at home and on the go.

Video-Programming: An Essential Part of Life for Chinese and Global Consumer

According to Nielsen’s report, 74% of Chinese respondents say video programs are an important part of their lives, well beyond the global average of 55%. Meanwhile, Chinese consumers today take more initiatives in choosing how and what to watch. 74% will switch to another channel when a commercial advertisement comes on, and 81% of them often catch up with their favorite programming by watching several episodes on the same day.

In addition, the convenience and portability of mobile devices are also the two key factors behind their gaining popularity. Around eight-in-ten Chinese respondents (81%) think watching video programming on their mobile device is convenient and 64% say a tablet is just as good as a PC or laptop for watching video programming. But 65% of Chinese respondents also think bigger is better when it comes to screen size.

Why We Watch Live: Push Has Now Become the Pull

Although video-on-demand and broadcast time appointment can be easily realized now, 72% of Chinese respondents prefer to watch live video programming at its regularly-scheduled time.   Nearly half of the global respondents watch video programming out of various social demands, and the proportion in China is even higher, 74% (49% for global average) of Chinese respondents say they watch live video programming content if it has a social media tie in. Seventy percent (53% for global average) say they like to keep up with shows so they can join the conversation on social media. And 65% (47% for global average) will engage with social media, while watching video programming.

Social media interaction is not the only example of device proliferation. Nielsen’s survey shows that consumers today enjoy learning more information, searching cast profiles, playing mobile games or watching show promos in other electronic devices when watching video programming. More than three-fifths of the Chinese respondents (62%) say they will browse the internet while watching TV, 4 percentage-points higher than the global average.

“Multiple screens are becoming a fundamental extension of the viewing experience,” said Rust. “While multiple screens   give viewers more options, they also give content providers and advertisers more opportunities and ways to reach and engage with viewers. Well-designed experiences can not only make the viewing experience more enjoyable, but they maximize the time users spend interacting with brands too.”

“As for the program providers, they need to focus on three key points. First — Socialization, endowing the video content with attractive topics so to encourage people to talk on social media; Second – Interactivity, the content for video programming should keep fresh to maximize audiences’ viewing time and re-watching ratio, which is also essential  to strengthen their relations with the show and bring incentives to them for their participation; Third — Accessibility – the video programming providers should make sure all the content can be easily accessed anywhere anytime in any platform,” Rust added.

How to Watch: Devices Proliferation Satisfies Diversified Demands

Nielsen’s survey shows TV still remains as a very important screen for video consumption. There are still more than half of Chinese respondents who would like to watch a series of shows of different genre via TV, including news shows (56%), game shows (53%), documentaries (52%), reality shows (48%), 46% of the respondents watches sporting event through TV screen. 

With the increasing popularity of Internet and the diversification of video programs, the importance of computer, mobile and tablets is growing. In fact, computer is more preferred than TV when it comes to comedies (53% vs. 48%), movies (62% vs. 49%), soap operas (41% vs. 38%) and short-form videos (50% vs. 19%).

TV is the primary device of choice for viewing video among older consumers. Globally, 90% of Silent Generation respondents (ages 65+) say they TV is their No.1 choice to watch video programming when at home, followed by computers (34%) and mobile phones (6%). While for younger consumer aged between 15 and 34, more than 60% of them say computer is the No.1 device to watch video programming at home, followed by TV (around 50%) and mobile phones.  

Also, Nielsen’s survey also indicates that the choice of device depends on when and where viewers are watching video programming and what they are doing while watching. Spending time with families is the most common situation when Chinese consumers choose to watch programming on TV (54%), but the computer (26%) and mobile phone (23%) screen are catching up. When at home alone, more than three-fifths of the Chinese respondents (64%) watch video on a computer and 40% choose mobile phones.  In addition, computer (50%) and mobile phones (58%) are cited as the top two devices of choice for passing the time among Chinese respondents.  

 During some fragmented time periods, such as waiting for a friend (62%), sitting in a doctor’s office (30%), at work (30%), at school (40%), shopping (41%) and exercising (30%), mobile phones has become the most commonly used device Chinese respondents use to watch video programming.

Nielsen’s report shows that when it comes to daily distribution of screen minutes across countries, Chinese consumer spend a lot more time on smartphone (170 minutes) and computers (161 minutes) than their time on TV (89 minutes) on daily basis.  While in the US, TV (147 minutes) still weighs a lot as No.2 screen people spend on, closely following their time on smartphones (151 minutes).

“The boundaries among different devices blur gradually and the best device for watching depends on whom, where and when,” Rust pointed out. “Consumers will choose the most suitable devices according to their demands. The content providers need to eliminate the obstacles among time, space and screen in order to win in the competition. “

Online Education, Medical Information Sharing and Job Hunting are Top Three Needs that Influence Mobile Device Usage 

According to Nielsen’s survey, the top three motives for global consumers to use electronic devices are establishing or maintain relationships, collecting information and entertainment.

In China, connecting with family/friends (64%) is the top needs for Chinese respondents to turn to  electronic devices, followed by listen to music (63%), take pictures/ videos (61%), and get news (59%). When it comes to the future trends of using these devices, online education, medical information sharing and job hunting show great potential.

“Diversification happens not only in the selection of various electronic devices but also in the consumption demands for screens. Apart from the 34% of respondents who are getting access to online education via electronic devices, another 47% are willing to in the future,” Rust pointed out. “In addition, 44% are willing to try finding a job (versus the34% currently do) and 43% are willing to sharing medical information (vs. 21% currently do) through mobile devices. Content providers and advertisers need to seize the opportunities to develop further connection with their audience.”


The findings in this survey are based on respondents with online access in 60 countries. While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration is still growing, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. In addition, survey responses are based on claimed behavior rather than actual metered data.


Nielsen N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance.  Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit