A new report released by Nielsen shows that Total Day TV viewing, as measured by HUT levels*, grew 1% from Sept-Oct, 2007 to the comparable period in Sept-Oct, 2008, even as broadcast prime-time viewing was down substantially. There was no clear cut trend across household income levels, with some income levels HUT rising and other falling.
The same report showed that Total Day cable news ratings are up almost 87% over the same period. Anyone living in America would likely attribute that to some combination of the Presidential election and the stock market meltdown.
The report also showed that American's aren't downgrading their cable or satellite service to broadcast only service.
*Households Using Television (HUT): The percentage of all television households in a survey area with one or more sets in use during a specific time period. The sum of the average ratings for a given time period will sometimes be higher than the HUT number because of households viewing multiple programs at the same time. If a household is watching two programs, it is counted toward each program rating but only once toward a HUT number.