How Americans Are More Connected Than Ever

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Nearly two-thirds of all Americans now own smartphones and use them all the time according to a new report just released by Nielsen ( NLSN).

It's not just smartphones, either. According to research completed for The Digital Consumer "today's consumer is more connected than ever, with more access to and deeper engagement with content and brands. And these changes are contributing to the media revolution and blurring traditional media definitions

The study finds Americans now own an average of own four digital devices and spend 60 hours a week consuming content on those devices. And, because a majority of U.S. households now own HDTVs, smartphones and computers connected to the Internet consumers have more choices where and how they access that content.

The new devices in use include smartphones such as Apple ( AAPL) iPhones and iPad tablets, Samsung Galaxy devices, Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows phones and tablets as well as game consoles from Microsoft, Sony ( SNE) and Nintendo.

The survey found that while more people own high-definition televisions, they're watching them less. While TV viewing is now measured at nearly 134 hours per person, each month that number is down some three hours since the 2012 survey. Surfing the Web on computers is also off almost two hours per month, coming in at 27 hours.

Making the largest gains were using browsers and apps on a smartphone (a gain of nearly 10 hours per month) and watching time-shifted TV, up almost 2 hours per month.

The study also found a small but growing group are opting to purchase broadband-only Internet connections using connected devices as their primary source for watching video at home. More than half (52%) of broadband-only homes consist of younger viewers (18-to-34) compared to traditional TV households. Those broadband-only homes are twice as likely to own game consoles (80%) and tablets (41%) as compared to traditional TV households.

Nielsen reports 38% of U.S. consumers say they subscribe to or use Netflix ( NFLX) streaming video service. That's up seven percent since 2012. Netflix users are watching on Smart TV (17%), tablets (15%) and on their computer (44%). Twenty-three percent say they watch Netflix on mobile phones up from just 11 percent in 2012.

The survey also found using more than one screen at a time is on the rise. People watching TV are now more likely to reach for their smartphones and tablets to surf the Web, shop, check sports scores, email/text friends or buy a product being advertised.

According to the study almost two-thirds of social media users access their favorite sites via computers. Nearly half (47%) of all smartphone users visit social media sites daily.

Facebook ( FB) remains the largest social media network being accessed on computers with LinkedIn ( LNKD), Pinterest and Facebook's Instagram making huge gains in the past year.

Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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