PhotoIt had to happen eventually. What with sleeping, eating, working, commuting and just generally staying alive, folks can't squeeze in any more TV viewing time.

This is the discovery of Nielsen, the ratings service that has for decades measured audiences for broadcast television. Now, with video streaming out of laptops, phones, tablets and every other nook and cranny, Nielsen says we've essentially maxed out our viewing time.

In a new report, Nielsen says the number of channels viewed by the average household has stabilized at about 17.5 since 2008, even as the number of available channels has grown by 60 since then.

Nielsen, which will start measuring Internet and mobile Web viewing later this year, admits it is still trying to figure out how to define the concept of "channels" as new video sources like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube turn the distribution system on its head.

Since the primary purpose of ratings is to set advertising rates, this is not just an academic exercise -- there are big bucks at stake.

So maybe that means that serious minds will take it seriously and do something to expand the time available for viewing. Could this be where Google's driverless car comes in? After all, with an average commute of 30 minutes or so each way, that could open up another hour of video- and commercial-viewing time.


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