Even measured by duration of consumption, where 30- or 60-minute TV shows might seem to have a built-in advantage over three-minute songs, video comprises just 2% of total time spent using iPods or iTunes among iPod owners. Video iPod users consume video 11% of the time.
The study also found that 15.8% of iPod users have played a video on either iPod or iTunes. About one-third of that group doesn't own a video iPod.
Nielsen's "Home Tech Report," a separate ongoing tracking of new technologies, projects about 13% of U.S. households own at least one iPod, amounting to about 15 million -- 30% of which are video-enabled iPods. By Apple's own count, nearly 70 million iPods have been sold to date.
"To a great extent, that number is driven almost entirely by people looking to play audio," said Paul Lindstrom, senior vp custom research at Nielsen. "The real question in many ways becomes, What is the next wave?"
Nielsen declined requests to provide additional data from the study, which is believed to have also tracked consumption of specific titles. But what few figures could be obtained from the study seem to suggest that despite iPod's upgrade to video capabilities in October 2005, the device is still mainly used as an audio device.
The data could raise some profound questions about assumptions made regarding consumer behavior; specifically, whether mobile devices can truly encourage a mass audience to adopt mobile video consumption after generations of generally homebound, large-screen viewing habits.
Nielsen's take on video consumption is highly subject to interpretation. Worst-case scenario: The panel is an early indication that TV and movies have limited appeal on iPods. Best-case scenario: While adoption of video may be proceeding more slowly than the hype suggests, there is tremendous upside ahead. Either way, the results will be of interest to a media world intent on migrating video to wireless hand-helds, whether portable media players like Microsoft's new Zune or mobile phone market entrants like Verizon's VCast.