OTA TV reception climbs; minorities, young, poor most likely to watch only off-air TV

OTA television is growing in importance to more Americans as percentage of TV households whose only source of TV is received off-air has climbed to nearly 20 percent, according to the findings of a new study from GfK Media & Entertainment.

The report, “2013 Ownership Survey and Trend Report,” which is part of the “The Home Technology Monitor” research series, found that the percentage of OTA-only U.S. households has climbed to 19.3 percent, a 38 percent increase from the 14 percent recorded four years ago. One year ago, 17.8 percent of households said they solely relied on OTA television.

OTA TV is most important to minorities, the report found. Minority households now account for 41 percent off all off-air households in America, an increase of 3 percent from 2010.

The study found 22 percent of all African-American households and 25 percent of Latino households now are broadcast-only homes. In 2010, the percentages were 12 and 23 percent, respectively. Among Latino households that prefer speaking Spanish at home, the popularity of pay TV has declined, with 47 percent buying a TV subscription compared to 67 percent in 2010, the survey said.

Among Asian U.S. households, the trend reversed, with 23 percent now relying on OTA television, compared with 30 percent in 2010.

The researchers estimate that today some 22.4 million U.S. households rely solely on OTA television, which represents 59.7 million people.

“OTA households continue to grow, making up an increasingly sizeable portion of television views,” said David Tice, senior VP, GfK Media & Entertainment. “Our research reveals that OTA broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming; this year’s results confirm the statistically significant growth in the number of broadcast-only TV households in the U.S., which we identified in 2012.”

The research also found that younger households are more likely to be OTA-only. Among households headed by someone 18 to 34 years of age, 28 percent are broadcast-only, compared to 18 percent in 2010.

Many lower-income households, too, favor broadcast-only TV. The researchers found 30 percent of households with an annual income below $30,000 rely solely on OTA television, compared to 22 percent in 2010.