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June 18, 2012
Dennis Wharton
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Over-the-air TV Viewership Soars to 54 Million Americans

New research shows minorities, younger consumers more likely to rely on broadcasting

17.8% of homes exclusively OTA reliant

WASHINGTON -- According to new research by GfK Media, the number of Americans now relying on over-the-air (OTA) television reception increased to almost 54 million, up from 46 million just a year ago.1 The recently completed survey also found that the demographics of broadcast-only households skew towards younger adults, minorities and lower-income families.

The 2012 Ownership Survey and Trend Report, part of The Home Technology Monitor research series, found that 17.8% of all U.S. households with TVs use over-the-air signals to watch TV programming; this compares with 15.0% of homes reported as broadcast-only last year. Overall, GfK Media estimates that more than 20.7 million households representing 53.8 million consumers receive television exclusively through broadcast signals.

"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," said David Tice, Senior Vice President, GfK Media. "Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming, and that in the past year the estimated number of broadcast-only TV households in the U.S. has grown significantly over what we've seen at least back to 2008."

The survey found a small and growing number of homes have canceled pay-TV service at their current home. According to the 2012 study, six percent of TV households, which translates to 6.9 million TV households, eliminated pay-TV service in their current home at some point in the past and now rely only on over-the-air reception rather than pay-TV service. Four percent of TV households had eliminated pay-TV service at some point in the past according to the 2011 study.

The survey found some minority groups are more dependent on broadcast reception than the general population, including 28% of Asian households (up from 25% in 2011) and 23% of African-American households (up from 17% in 2011). In addition, 26% of Latino homes (23% in 2011) are broadcast-only, a proportion that increases to 33% among homes in which Spanish is the language of choice, up from 27% in 2011. In all, minorities make up 44% of all broadcast-only homes, a four-point increase from 2011, when 40% of broadcast-only homes were minorities.

Homes headed by younger adults are also more likely to access TV programming exclusively through broadcast signals. Twenty-four percent of homes (20% in 2011) with a head of household age 18-34 are broadcast only, compared with 17% of homes in which the head of household is 35-49, or 15% of homes in which the head of household is 50 years of age or older.

Lower-income households also trend towards broadcast-only television, with 26% of homes with an annual income under $30,000 receiving TV signals solely over-the-air. In comparison, 11% of homes with incomes $75,000 or greater rely exclusively on broadcast signals.

The Home Technology Monitor is an independent syndicated research service that tracks both ownership of over 100 media technology devices and services and the ways that people are using those devices in everyday life. The Home Technology Monitor leverages KnowledgePanel, the only online consumer panel based on a representative sample of the full U.S. population. The 2012 Ownership Survey and Trend Report is based on a survey, fielded in March and April 2012 on Knowledge Network's probability-recruited research panel, comprised of interviews with a total of - 3,207 households. The interviews included representative proportions of cell-phone-only, non-Internet and Spanish-speaking homes. The standard error range for a question asked of the total sample is approximately +/- 2%.

1 2012 estimates used 2011 CPS annual estimates of 118.7 million total HHS, 2.6 persons per HH and GfK Media estimate of 98.0% of total HHs having a TV set.
2011 estimates used March 2011 Census CPS estimates of 119.1 million total HHs, 2.6 persons per HH; and KN estimate of 98.2% of total HHs having a TV set.

About GfK
GfK is one of the world's largest research companies, with more than 11,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2011, GfK's sales amounted to EUR 1.37 billion. GfK Media is the former media research practice of Knowledge Networks, acquired by GfK in January 2012.

To find out more about GfK, visit or follow GfK on Twitter:

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