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NAB Reports Increase in Off-Air TV Viewing

Research by GfK Media found that off-air TV viewership has risen to 54 million Americans. This number is for households that rely solely on off-air TV, and do not subscribe to cable TV, satellite TV or other MVPD. It does not include the many households that have cable or satellite TV, yet rely on off-air TV for some sets. While many reports of this news expressed surprise, it shouldn't surprise RF Report readers. 

It’s been difficult to miss the huge increase in interest in indoor TV antennas. If it weren’t the case, then we wouldn't be seeing companies offering new products such as the Mohu Leaf, the Walltenna, and the new Winegard FlatWave

Antennas Direct has consistently increased sales year over year and has reached distribution agreements with major retailers. I've noticed the assortment of off-air antennas at big box stores I've visited has increased beyond what was offered during the DTV transition three years ago. 

Even the FCC Website shows an increase in inquiries about off-air viewing--see Quarterly Reports – Consumer Inquiries and Complaints. The last summary, covering the first quarter of 2012, showed the number of inquiries about off-air TV reception devices in March exceeded the number of inquiries in any other “Cable and Satellite Services” category, beating even “Billing and Rates.” 

The NAB news release on the GfK Media survey said it found the demographics of broadcast-only households skews towards younger adults, minorities and lower-income families. 

 “As we've seen for the past few years, over-the-air households continue to make up a sizeable portion of the television viewing landscape,” said David Tice, senior VP at GfK Media. “Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming, and that in the past year the estimated number of broadcast-only TV households in the U.S. has grown significantly over what we've seen at least back to 2008.”

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.