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June 21, 2013
Dennis Wharton
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Over-the-Air TV Renaissance Continues as Pay TV Cord-Cutting Rises

19.3% of homes are non-pay TV, up from 17.8% a year ago

59.7 million viewers are broadcast TV-reliant, led by minorities, young

WASHINGTON, D.C.– New research from GfK Media & Entertainment shows that the estimated number of Americans now relying exclusively on over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasting increased to 59.7 million, up from 54 million just a year ago. The percentage of TV households currently OTA reliant has now grown from 14% in 2010 to 19.3% in the current survey, a 38% increase in just four years. The recently completed survey also found that the demographics of broadcast-only households continue to skew toward younger adults, minorities and lower-income families.

The 2013 Ownership Survey and Trend Report, part of The Home Technology Monitor™ research series, found that 19.3% of all U.S. households with TVs rely solely on over-the-air signals to watch TV programming; this compares with 17.8% of homes reported as broadcast-only last year. Overall, GfK estimates that 22.4 million households representing 59.7 million consumers receive television exclusively through broadcast signals and are not subscribing to a pay TV service (i.e., a traditional pay TV service such as cable, satellite, Verizon FIOS or AT&T U-Verse).

"Over-the-air households continue to grow, making up an increasingly sizeable portion of television viewers," says David Tice, Senior Vice President, GfK Media & Entertainment. And, the proportion of households that have never paid for cable or satellite service also continues to grow. "Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming; this year's results confirm the statistically significant growth in the number of broadcast-only TV households in the U.S., which we identified in 2012."

According to the 2013 study, 5.9% of TV households "cut the cord" in their current home at some point in the past. Among households that eliminated pay-TV service responding to the 2013 survey, most report overall cost-cutting or not enough value for cost as the reason for doing so (respondents could give more than one reason). These were also the top reasons given in the 2012 survey for eliminating pay-TV service.

The survey found that minorities currently make up 41% of all broadcast-only homes, up from 38% in 2010. In the most recent study, 23% of Asian (down from 30% in 2010), 22% of African-American (up from 12% in 2010) and 25% of Latino households (up from 23% in 2010) are OTA reliant. Currently, Latino households that prefer speaking Spanish at home are increasingly giving up pay-TV services. In 2013, just half (49%) of these households had a pay TV service, down from 67% in 2010.

Homes headed by younger adults are also more likely to access TV programming exclusively through broadcast signals. Twenty-eight percent of homes with a head of household age 18-34 (up from 18% in 2010) are broadcast only, compared with 19% of homes in which the head of household is 35-49, or 17% of homes in which the head of household is 50 years of age or older. Two out of ten (21%) younger over-the-air households have never purchased a pay TV service according to the current survey.

Lower-income households also trend towards broadcast-only television, with 30% of homes having an annual income under $30,000 receiving TV signals solely over-the-air (up from 22% in 2010). In comparison, 11% of homes with incomes $75,000 or greater currently rely exclusively on broadcast signals, a proportion that has changed little since 2010.

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 2013 Ownership Survey and Trend Report is based on a survey, fielded in March and April 2013 on KnowledgePanel®, GfK's probability-recruited research panel, comprised of interviews with a total of 3,106 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%.

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