We’re #3! We’re #3! (Try Harder?)

It’s time to play a little Jeopardy. The answer is “Serbia and Macedonia“. Can you come up with the question? Give up? Here you go: “What two countries rank higher than the United States in terms of average daily time spent viewing television?” Clearly we can do better, folks! You’re just not trying hard enough.

Nielsen is out with a new report: How People Watch. It reports on how people around the world use television and other electronic devices to watch television programming. Now, it’s important to note that the survey was given to 27,000 consumers from 55 different countries. And a key factor is that they were all online users. This makes me suspect that you may not be able to generalize the answers across the entire world population. With that caveat in mind, the results are still interesting.

For example, the fact cited at the start of this piece has the average American consumer watching 5:04 (hours:minutes) of TV each day. Macedonia topped us with 5:18, and Serbia blew us away at 5:39, more than an additional half hour every day. I don’t have an explanation for this, but I will point out that the CIA World Fact Book reports that the Serbian unemployment rate is 16.6% compared with the U.S. 9.3%. And Macedonia unemployment is at 32.2%. Maybe these people just have more time that they can give to television? Oh, and we just edged out Greece for the number 3 spot; they averaged one minute less than us at 5:03 (and an almost-identical unemployment rate).

We went for the Bronze in another category as well. In High-Definition Television Ownership, we tied the United Kingdom for third place with an index score of 157. Hong Kong topped us for second place with an index score of 160, but the Australians finished far out in first with an index of 200. (Fair dinkum? Some might say that the Aussies use a different ruler to measure with; they count 576p as high-def, while the rest of the world seems to agree that 720p marks the minimum spec for HD.)

And you don’t even want to know where we finished on items such as mobile TV or watching over-the-top Internet content on a television set. Cubs fans would be familiar with our position in the pack.

Bottom line: it appears that we’re slacking off here. So let’s plan on a big push this holiday season to get hooked up, tuned in, and zoned out. Let’s see some better numbers if Nielsen decides to update this study next year!