Nielsen estimates 114.9 million U.S. TV homes for upcoming season; smallest increase in a decade

Nielsen, the TV ratings service, estimates that there will be 114.9 million U.S. TV households for the upcoming 2009-2010 TV season, the smallest increase in the last 10 years. This is an increase of 400,000 homes from last year, with a slight increase in viewers over age 2, to 292 million.

The Top 10 local markets (DMAs) will remain the same this season. Boston, the eighth largest, saw an increase of only 1100 homes. New York City gained the most homes of any of DMA, up about 60,000 homes. The highest-ranked DMA to experience a decrease was Detroit at No. 11, which lost nearly 37,000 homes.

There were a few changes in the Top 20 DMA. Moving up was Seattle, from 14 to 13, and Denver, from 18 to 16. Tampa, Miami and Cleveland were each down one rank. There were no new markets to enter the Top 50 or the Top 100, although there were several multirank increases and decreases.

The most notable changes in the Top 100 markets are that four Florida markets are down (Tampa, Miami, Ft. Myers, Tallahassee), partially due to population declines in the state due to the poor economy.

Four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, New Orleans had the largest percentage increase among all markets, up 5.2 percent from last year. The city moved up two ranks from 53 to 51 as former residents returned to the area after the disaster.

Waco, TX, showed the largest change in ranks, increasing from 94 to 89 and gaining about 10,000 homes. Other multirank increases in the Sun Belt region included Tucson, AZ (+2); Shreveport, LA (+2); and Charleston, SC (+2). The Midwest saw multirank decreases in Columbus, OH (-2); Grand Rapids (-2) and Flint, MI (-2); and South Bend, IN (-2).