New York – The number of U.S. television households has
declined for the first time since 1992, a decline attributed to the transition
from analog to digital broadcasting, the economy, and the new video platforms
available to consumers, according to a report from Nielsen. The total number of
U.S. households that own a television dropped to 96.7% from 98.9%, according to
Nielsen cited the 2009 transition to digital broadcasting —
which required consumers to upgrade their sets or purchase a digital antenna —
in part for the decline in ownership, which affected lower-income, rural homes
"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," Nielsen’s Pat McDonough told The New York
Times, adding that incomes in these households typically comes in under
"Some consumers are clearly being driven by the economy to make
choices on the media devices they purchase," said McDonough.
are expanding their equipment to add more audio/video devices to their home.
Still others may be deferring a TV purchase or replacing their TV with a computer."
Nielsen’s report also noted the phenomena of "cord-cutting."
small subset of younger, urban consumers seem to be going without paid TV subscriptions
for the time being," the firm said.
"Long-term effects of this are
still unclear, as it’s undetermined if this is also an economic issue, with
these individuals entering the TV marketplace once they have the means, or the
beginning of a larger shift to viewing online and on mobile devices."