Nielsen survey finds record number of TV channels, but we’re not watching them.

You, Average American Viewer, Have 189 TV Channels. Here’s How Many You Actually Watch.

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May 6 2014 5:16 PM

You, Average American Viewer, Have 189 TV Channels. Here’s How Many You Actually Watch.

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More choices isn't always better when it comes to TV channels.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Everything is bigger in America: houses, cars, serving sizes, people. The nation of big appetites also craves more when it comes to our TV choices. The number of TV channels beamed into American homes has been on the rise for years and, in 2013, the average TV watching family had access to a whopping 189 channels, up from 129 five years earlier.

With a veritable buffet of TV on offer, how many of those channels do you, average American viewer, actually watch? 17. That's the same as when we had far fewer options, according to a new report from Nielsen.

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Here’s what Nielsen deduced from the numbers.

This data is significant in that it substantiates the notion that more content does not necessarily equate to more channel consumption. And that means quality is imperative—for both content creators and advertisers. So the best way to reach consumers in a world with myriad options is to be the best option.

That seems pretty self-evident. But, the bigger question is: Who watches TV on their TV anymore? Or, to put it even more plainly, here’s a preview of what kids will be asking parents in the not too distant future: “Dad, what’s a TV channel?”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter.

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