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Survey says 17 million homes watch television over the air

In its latest findings on TV viewership in the United States, market research firm Knowledge Networks says that the number of Americans now relying exclusively on over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasting in their home increased to almost 46 million, up from 42 million just a year ago. The recently completed survey also found that the demographics of broadcast-only households skew toward younger adults, minorities and lower-income families.

Interestingly, minorities make up 40 percent of all broadcast-only homes.

The white paper, entitled “2011 Ownership Survey and Trend Report,” states that 15 percent of all U.S. households with televisions rely solely on over-the-air signals to watch TV programming. This compares with 14 percent of homes reported as "broadcast-only" for the previous three years. Overall, Knowledge Networks estimates that roughly 17 million households representing 45.6 million consumers receive television exclusively through broadcast signals.

The survey also states that 4 percent of TV households (about 5 million TV households) “cut the cord” in their home and now rely only on over-the-air reception. Of these homes, most report overall cost cutting (71 percent) or not enough value for cost (30 percent) as the reason for doing so (respondents could give more than one reason).

The research found some minority groups are more dependent on broadcast reception than the general population, including one-fourth of Asian households and 17 percent of African-American households. In addition, 23 percent of Hispanic homes are broadcast-only, a proportion that increases to 27 percent among homes in which Spanish is the language of choice.

Knowledge Networks said that homes headed by younger adults are also more likely to access TV programming exclusively through broadcast signals. In fact, 20 percent of homes with a head of household age 18-34 are broadcast only, compared with 15 percent of homes in which the head of household is 35-54, or 13 percent of homes in which the head of household is 55 years of age or older.

Lower-income households also trend toward broadcast-only television, with 23 percent of homes with an annual income under $30,000 receiving TV signals solely over the air. In comparison, 11 percent of homes with incomes greater than $30,000 rely exclusively on broadcast signals.

The “2011 Ownership Survey and Trend Report” is based on a survey conducted in March and April 2011 and consisted of interviews with some 3343 households.

2010 estimates used March 2010 Census CPS estimates of 117.5 million total households, 2.6 persons per household; and Knowledge Networks estimate of 97.6 percent of total households having a TV set. The 2011 estimates used March 2011 Census CPS estimates of 119.1 million total households, 2.6 persons per household; and Knowledge Networks estimate of 98.2 percent of total households that own a TV set.