Antenna Adoption Grows Among Younger Viewers

(Image credit: Horowitz)

As cord cutting hits record levels, a new study from Horowitz Research finds that in 2022, almost two in ten (18%) TV content viewers report having a digital antenna and that digital antenna ownership has grown among younger viewers from 14% in 2021 to 23% in 2022. 

Despite the growth in younger viewers, the penetration rates for OTA antenna was similar to 2021 and lower than the penetration during COVID, during which antenna adoption and usage spiked.

Notably, hyper-local content is very important to antenna owners, with 58% saying they are interested in hyper-local news and information from their specific community.  The Horowitz study also found that interest in hyper-local content is on par with interest in national and regional news.

 “There is still a healthy market for the live, linear local and hyper-local broadcast news and information that digital antennas can deliver for free to consumers,” notes Adriana Waterston, chief revenue officer and insights and strategy Lead for Horowitz Research. “But consumer education is critical to drive awareness, continued adoption, and viewership. There are many consumers who would benefit from having a digital antenna but don’t know it’s an option for them. It’s in the best interest of broadcasters to make a concerted effort to change that.”

The data is from Horowitz’s latest State of OTA 2022 report, which tracks the evolving market for over-the-air (OTA) antennas, wireless 5G home internet services, and other disruptive technologies. The study looks at the role digital antennas play in keeping consumers connected to live, linear broadcast content as Americans continue to shed traditional cable or satellite (MVPD) services.

The study found that younger viewers now over-index on digital antenna usage compared to their older (50+ year-old) counterparts (23% and 15%, respectively). 

The study also finds that Latinx viewers over-index on digital antenna ownership compared to all other segments (25%, compared to 18% among white non-Latinx and Black viewers, and 19% among Asian TV content viewers).

The new State of OTA 2022 survey also reports that digital antennas have priority placement in the home, perhaps filling in the space once occupied by cable/satellite set-top boxes in homes that have shed traditional pay TV service. Two in three digital antenna owners (67%) have an antenna on the TV that is used the most in the home, a number that rises to almost 8 in 10 among digital antenna owners who do not have MVPD service (78%).

The study also shows that antenna owners are using them. Self-reported time spent with content delivered through a digital antenna accounts for about 1 in every 4 viewing hours among antenna owners overall, growing to over 4 in 10 hours of viewing time spent among antenna owners without MVPD service (42%). Streaming accounts for a little over half of their viewing time spent, Horowitz said. 

(Image credit: Horowitz)

According to the digital antenna owners surveyed, being able to get live access to local broadcast channels is the main reason for getting an antenna, followed by being able to access local news, the researchers reported. 

The study also points to some challenges and opportunities in the digital antenna/OTA space.  The majority (62%) of owners are satisfied with their digital antennas, but reliability and the number of channels available are frustration points for some consumers. 

The researchers also noted that, given the desire to remain connected to live, local and hyper-local content, there is a missed opportunity to better market the technology to non-adopters. Over half (54%) of non-antenna owners say they know only a little about digital antennas. When presented with a description of the technology and its benefits, non-antenna owners say they would be interested in getting a digital antenna. Overall, the study finds that 13% of TV content viewers are either planning to get a digital antenna or would be very likely to adopt an antenna in the near future based on the description provided in the survey.

The full State of OTA 2022 report provides analysis of TV content viewers 18+ who have at least one TV set in the home and are decision makers.  The survey was published in November 2022 in English among 1,600 adults, with an oversample that resulted in 855 antenna owners. Data have been weighted to ensure results are representative of the overall TV universe. The report is available in total market, FOCUS Latinx, FOCUS Black, and FOCUS Asian editions.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.