CEA says 7 percent watch OTA TV only; NAB cries foul

New research from the Consumer Electronics Association finds that less than 10 percent watch only OTA television, but NAB questions the findings.
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New research released July 30 by the Consumer Electronics Association finds only 7 percent of TV households in America rely solely on off-air reception from a TV antenna to receive television programming.

The research stands in sharp contrast to a study released earlier this summer from consumer research firm GfK finding that 19.3 percent of U.S. TV homes say they receive only OTA television as their source of TV programming.

The CEA findings are part of the association’s new study “U.S. Household Television Usage Update.” For the study, CEA contacted 1009 U.S. adults.

According to CEA’s findings, 83 percent of TV households receive television programming via pay-TV services, such as cable, satellite or fiber to the home. OTT delivery of video content to laptop computers, tablets, connected TVs and other devices is likely responsible for a 5-percentage-point decline in pay-TV households, the association said.

The study found 28 percent of U.S. TV households receive programming on their TVs through the Internet. Additionally, 4 percent of TV households report using the Internet exclusively as their source of television programming on TV.

CEA’s OTA TV findings are released into a highly charged environment that has pitted the television industry against the wireless industry as spectrum formerly allocated exclusively to TV broadcasting enters a clearing phase as the FCC’s incentive auction strategy moves forward.

“The vast majority of Americans no longer rely on OTA TV signals,” said CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro. “Consumers have moved away in droves from traditional broadcast television thanks to a surge in programming alternates available through wired and wireless broadband connections.

“This is why Congress had it right when it authorized the FCC to hold voluntary broadcast spectrum incentive auctions to reallocate broadcast television spectrum to greater uses, like wireless broadband. This study provides yet another reason why it is time for broadcast spectrum to be reallocated, and quickly.”

NAB, however, cried foul with CEA’s OTA findings. “CEA’s findings strain the bounds of credibility, beginning with the fact that its alleged ‘research’ was conducted by CEA staff members rather than an independent firm,” said Dennis Wharton, NAB executive VP of communications.

In contrast, GfK, which found 19.3 percent rely on OTA television exclusively, is a “world-recognized consumer research firm,” he said. Projecting GfK’s finding across the U.S. population indicates that some 22 million homes rely exclusively on OTA television solely for their TV programming.

“We’re confident that GfK’s research is far more credible than that of a trade association with a track record of anti-broadcasting bias,” Wharton added.