Television ownership in the U.S. dropped for the first time in 20 years according to Nielsen, reports the New York Times.  Down from 98.9 percent of the households in the U.S. having televisions to 96.7 percent (from 115.9 million households to 114.7 million). Nielsen attributes the declines to poverty and technological wizardry, i.e., more people are using their desktop computers and laptops to watch on the Internet, particularly young people who aren’t buying TVs after graduation.

Nielsen is in the process of rethinking how it classifies homes with televisions and is considering including homes that view only through the Internet.

But Nielsen attributes most of the declines to low income households and not cord cutting. 

The “persistently rocky economy” is “the driving factor,” the company says in the report to be released Tuesday.


Nielsen’s research into these newly TV-less households indicates that they generally have incomes under $20,000. “They are people at the bottom of the economic spectrum for whom, if the TV breaks, if the antenna blows off the roof, they have to think long and hard about what to do,” Ms. [Pat McDonough, the senior vice president for insights and analysis at Nielsen] McDonough said. Most of these households do not have Internet access either. Many live in rural areas.

Nielsen also concludes the recent switch from analog to digital aggravated the situation despite government subsidies aimed at easing the transition.  Further, Nielsen notes that for technical reasons, digital signals in rural areas aren’t as easy to receive as the analog signals were and that middle class homes in rural areas have an easier time opting for satellite hookups than lower income homes.

More at Nielsen

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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