Household Decline in TV Ownership Has Finally Arrived
Well, it finally happened. The one appliance that was once universal in every household in America has begun its decline.
The latest Nielsen report out this week shows that the percentage of US households owning a television dropped to 96.7 from 98.9. Granted, that is still quite a few households (114million), but 2 percentage points is nothing to sneeze at. After 20 years of looking at these numbers, this is a first. TV ownership rivals “running water” in terms of percent of households in America.
This decline in ownership of TVs is driven by households moving to digital formats and the “other screen” of personal computers and tablets. Certainly, the recession has forced some households to cut back on big purchases, but I don’t think that is the trend. This is the beginning of a migration that is sure to accelerate.
What does this evolution to digital formats mean to our beloved television shows? Maybe not that much. Content and programming are affected, not by a decline in consumption, but by the medium that will get it to the consumer. TV viewership is up in terms of total hours, as is viewership in web-based and mobile-based content. So, as we redefine the idea of a television, the discussion moves to content rather than the appliance on which it can be viewed.