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

    July 30, 2013

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.”