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You Say Potahto: OTA Reliance Pegged at 15 Percent

NEW YORK: Around 46 million Americans rely on broadcasters for their TV service. So say the market researchers at Knowledge Networks. The firm said the total had increased by 4 million people from one year ago, when 42 million people lived in broadcast-only households. This year’s total comprises around 15 percent of U.S. households compared to 14 percent for the previous three years. The Consumer Electronics Association recently estimated over-the-air reliance at 8 percent, and having declined since 2005. (See “CEA Pegs OTA Audience at 8 Percent.”)

“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,” KN’s David Tice said. “Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming, and that the estimated number of broadcast TV households in the U.S. has grown.”

The numbers were derived from a survey of 3,343 U.S. households conducted in March and April of this year, which were compared to U.S. Census figures. They also revealed that broadcast-only households skewed toward younger adults, minorities and lower-income families.

This year’s survey “found a small but notable number of homes that have canceled pay TV service at their current home,” KN said. Around 5 million, or 4 percent, of TV households dropped pay TV service “at some point in the past” and now just use broadcast reception, KN said. The majority cited cost as the reason for doing so.

The survey found some minority groups are more dependent on broadcast reception than the general population, e.g., 25 percent 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. In all, minorities make up 40 percent of all broadcast-only homes.

Homes headed by younger adults also are more likely to rely on broadcast TV: 20 percent of homes with a head of household 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 towards 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.
~ Deborah D. McAdams