Cheryl Pearson-McNeil2

By Cheryl Pearson-McNeil

NNPA Columnist

Remember back-in-the-day when you used to poke your mouth out, bug your parents (or whatever adult was in charge) about being bored?  Well, today’s kids can’t use that tired, old excuse. Neither can we, as grown folks, for that matter.

We’ve been spoiled rotten and have access to endless entertainment options at our fingertips, 24/7.  So, I’m excited to share with you insights from  Nielsen’s first-ever Entertainment Consumer Report, which breaks down, in detail, the myriad of ways we are entertained – whether it’s game playing, watching movies or other video content, listening to music or reading a book.  As entertainment consumers, we fall into three categories: high, moderate and low entertainment spenders.  Although just one-third of the population qualifies as high entertainment spenders, they account for more than 70 percent of entertainment spending.  This segment of spenders are more likely to be ethnically diverse and women with young children than moderate and low entertainment spenders.  Makes perfect sense to me since moms are usually the ones charged with keeping the kids occupied.

When it comes to how we listen music, long gone are the days portrayed in the musicals “Cadillac Records” and “Dream Girls.”   But wait.  Though digital music leads overall music sales with 118 million digital albums and 1.3 billion tracks purchased last year, the sales of old-school vinyl LPs jumped nearly 18 percent over the last year.  As the saying goes, “everything old is new again.”  African-Americans index on the lower end of the demographic spectrum of digital music buyers.  We, however, index slightly higher than other consumer groups in purchasing physical CDs.  We make up 12 percent of on-demand music streamers.  And, although all age groups enjoy music across all platforms, young adults between 18 and 24 spend the most time listening to music, about six hours a week, which is an hour more than those 25 and up.

You know how big companies sponsor concert tours and pay big bucks for an artist to endorse their product?  It’s good business.  Hitching to a star’s wagon has been shown to increase buy rates of a product by as much as 28 percent among the artists’ fans.

Switching gears to what and how we watch video content at home, well, the sky is pretty much the limit with multiple devices to choose from. Some examples of those are: DVR/Blu-Ray, video-on-demand, plus subscriber services like Netfilx and/or Hulu.  There are also video game consoles, computers, tablets and/or mobile devices.  Here are some quick facts:

  • 25-34 year olds are the biggest buyers of movie/TV DVDs and streaming video.
  • African-Americans index lower than other demographics in movie/TV DVD and streaming video purchases.
  • Females index higher than males in movie/TV DVD purchase, while men outrank women when it comes to buying streaming video.

What are some other forms of entertainment we have available to us? Well, I am glad you asked. Some, like me, still love the feel of a good book in your hands. But, I know some of you may also appreciate the convenience of e-readers.  Turns out, there’s not much difference between print and eBook buyers.  Among adults online surveyed in this report, both groups of readers are more likely females between the ages of 55 and 64.  African-Americans index slightly higher with purchasing eBooks than print books.  Can you guess at our favorite books from last year? If you guessed E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy, followed by Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games series, you were correct.  And, when we like something, we want to enjoy the experience in all ways possible.  Case in point: “The Hunger Games,” which was also a box office success, was the fourth best selling print book of 2012, the top selling music soundtrack and the third most-purchased DVD.

So now you see even how your various entertainment preferences matter. And even though there are many choices, every choice is important.

Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to