Cable Households Dropping, Over-The-Air Households Down to 7%

    July 30, 2013
    Sean Patterson
    Comments are off for this post.

Now that streaming services companies such as Netflix and Amazon have begun to create their own original programming (and are getting Emmy Award nominations for them), the pressure is on for traditional programming outlets to compete. New research released today shows that cable and network television could soon be falling behind faster than anyone might imagine.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) latest “U.S. Household Television Usage” report, the number of U.S. households that receive cable TV programming through cable, satellite, and fiber connections have fallen to 83% – down from 88% in 2010. The CEA cited non-TV devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, as well as streaming services as a major factor in the drop in cable subscribed households. The same report found that 28% of U.S. households now watch some TV content via the internet, with 4% using the internet to exclusively access TV content.

At the same time, U.S. television viewers that cancel their cable subscriptions do not seem to be flocking to over-the-air TV content. The CEA report shows that only 7% of U.S. households receive all of their TV content over-the-air – a decrease from 16% one decade ago. This suggests that Americans are now watching TV from more sources than ever, while at the same time beginning to question the value of traditional cable subscriptions.

“The vast majority of Americans no longer rely on over-the-air TV signals,” said Gary Shapiro, CEO of CEA. “Consumers have moved away in droves from traditional broadcast television thanks to a surge in programming alternatives available through wired and wireless broadband connections. This is why Congress had it right when they authorized the FCC to hold voluntary broadcast spectrum incentive auctions to reallocate broadcast television spectrum to greater uses, like wireless broadband. This study provides yet another reason why it is time for broadcast spectrum to be reallocated, and quickly.”

  • will

    This news should be alarm bells for cable companies who have notoriously bad service and high prices. It shouldn’t be shocking given the existence of Netflix/Youtube has been around for years. Sadly, I have doubts things will change until cable businesses go bankrupt.

    1) bad and outdated business models
    2) lowest ranking service sector
    3) never quite breached the social status of a “Utility” vs a “Want”
    4) antiquated technology that has for decades resisted upgrades of possible new technology.
    5) unwillingness to accept change or adopt.
    6) business practices that rewards unfaithful customers who threatens to disconnect; not those who are long customers.
    7) burdensome fees and hidden gotcha nickel and dime billing practices.
    8) sales tactics that define spammy annoying junk mail.

  • Straz

    “The CEA report shows that only 7% of U.S. households receive all of their TV content over-the-air – a decrease from 16% one decade ago.”

    A misleading statistic. What is the percentage of households without cable or dish watching OTA TV supplemented with a combination of DVD or internet, BUT the majority of their viewing time is OTA? The presentation of the 7% statistic downplays the importance of OTA TV!

    I currently fall within the 7%, but intend to supplement that with DVD’s and seasonal cable. Then OTA TV portion will probably represent over 80% of my viewing time. Perhaps that’s what they should be measuring?

    I will only need the cable for baseball games and paying to hook-up and disconnect is mush more cost effective than subscribing for 12 months per year.

  • Tpac Omen

    This is a totally bogus survey. Digital OTA viewership is on the rise, BIG TIME. The last unbias survey showed better than 19 percent dropping cable in favor of far superior and free digital TV antennas. The CEA report lacks all credibility. The biggest problem with OTA TV is really how good it is…

    I have Charter for a high speed internet connection – that’s it. I live in a very rural area miles and miles from any TV transmitters. However, I am getting 12 channels. I use two DB-8 Antennas in my attic space for TV. What really sold me on OTA Digital TV is the amazing quality of the UNCOMPRESSED HDTV digital signal one can receive. Its really beautiful, and 5 TIMES sharper than what you can see on Cable or Dish. Now I watch less TV, and when I do, its PBS; which is fine. I find my house is quieter and more peaceful. Most ALL the stations I used to pay for I can watch on-line (and or stream that signal to my TV for viewing – there are a variety of devices that do this conveying process now – easily). Additionally, the newest Firefox with Ad-Block, actually blocks out ALL commercials from streaming broadcasts…

    So lets count up the benefits: 1. Amazing FREE HDTV signal (you cannot get via cable or dish). 2. FREE tv stations. 3. Access to nearly all other shows via the net, streaming to your monitor, and or TV, NO COMMERCIALS. 4. Over $800 savings per year… What not to love…

    CEA has their own evil reasons for wishing to killing OTA Digital TV – smarten up!

  • http://n/a Robin Putnam

    I would definitely agree with other posters that OTA viewership stats are incorrect & misleading to the general public. Our family has 2 conventional desktop computers, a laptop, two tablets, plus 5 other handheld devices. Yet the majority our TV is watched over the air. We also have 2 Blu-ray player & 3 DVD players to augment our live viewing. We have 2 antennas both with combiners. Living halfway between Chicago & Milwaukee we are able to access over 90 stations. There are many duplicates but the bottom line is that there are still over 60 distinct choices at any one time. As has been made irrefutably clear, the HD reception is second to none with OTA. We are now in the process of helping many households in our neighborhood switch from a pay TV source to OTA.

  • dazle1

    These numbers are bull, I know tons of people who watch over the air TV and do not have cable or satellite.

    • larrybud

      Well that sounds scientific.

    • larrybud

      Well that sounds scientific.