This question is quite timely. Americans are watching more commercials than ever before. According to the Nielsen ratings, Americans spend about 5 hours a day in front of the TV for this 2008-2009 season. This is a 20% increase from the last decade.
While the report resulted in 5 hours per day, it is difficult to tell if the report took into consideration certain segments of the population.
Possible factors which contributed to the increase include the high peak in unemployment, longer life span, and changes in how society watches TV.
Many unemployed and underemployed individuals watch more TV than before because they are unable to work. To pass the time, help ease frustration, or simply find a little entertainment, individuals watch more TV.
Equally, our elderly population is living longer. In retirement homes, assisted living homes, etc., TVs are left on for hours on end whether anyone is watching or not.
Another change is how our society watches media. Technological advancement provides DVDs, TiVo, DVR, Internet watching, so we are able to satisfy our media appetites.
Regardless of how our society watches TV--actively or passively, Americans have increased their TV commercial watching.