Does Your Chicago Home House a TV?

May 03, 2011

Here’s a surprising stat: The number of U.S. homes that own a TV set has dropped for the first time in 20 years.

girl watching tv on a computerAccording to the Nielsen Company, 96.7 percent of U.S. households have a TV set, down from 98.9 percent last year. The last posted decline was in 1992.

The ratings company takes TV ownership into account when it calculates ratings. So, when it gets ready for the 2012 TV season, it will assume that 114.7 million homes own television sets, down from 115.9 million.

The reason for the drop is threefold:

*Economy: The cost of owning a TV is a factor in this decline. Some low-income families simply can’t afford a television set, especially those who make under $20,000 a year. In 1992, the recession was also a cause for the drop in TV ownership.

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*iPad, iPhone, iMac: There are so many outlets in which to watch TV or movies these days, that televisions aren’t a necessity. Some younger, urban consumers are choosing to go without paid TV subscriptions. It remains to be seen whether these individuals will buy a TV once they can or if this is the beginning of a shift to viewing online and on mobile devices.

*Digital transition: TV drops were first posted in 2009 during the switch from analog to digital broadcasting when many consumers needed to invest in a new TV or add a converter, cable or satellite box. Experts expected a rebound over time, but it has yet to happen.

“The media marketplace continues to evolve and become more complex. Some consumers are clearly being driven by the economy to make choices on the media devices they purchase. Others 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,” said Pat McDonough, Senior Vice President, Insights and Analysis, The Nielsen Company.

“Nielsen’s cross-platform media strategy will allow us to measure all of this content and report the total picture of video consumption to our clients regardless of delivery method. As the census data shows that we are a more diverse country, our measurements evolve to reflect our diversity and also to encompass all the ways that Americans consume media.”

For more information on this and other things TV, visit the Nielsen Company at

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