Nielsen: TV ownership to be down for the first time


Nielsen’s just-released 2012 edition of their Television Audience report shows the total number of U.S. households with TV sets declined year to year for the first time since Nielsen started counting TV ownership. The number of households with no TV at all is at its highest level since 1975. Three percent of homes are without televisions. So it’s not just about cutting the Pay TV cord, it’s also about losing the TV set as well.

The decline is from 115.9 million US TV households in 2011 to estimated 114.7 million homes in 2012. That’s a decline of almost 1% at a time when the total number of U.S. households continues to grow.

But it’s not all bad news for the industry: These are the “up” numbers: DVRs will be in 41% of homes in 2012, digital cable 51% and HDTV 67%. Houses with three or more TV sets will hit 56% and time the average household spends in front of the TV will be a record 59 hours 28 minutes per week.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is likely all about young folks just getting to the household age. They’ve been weaned on laptops and smartphones for their entertainment—why spend the money for a new TV when you can watch what you like online? And who cares if it is 7 days old? No major worries yet—the ad dollars follow and the same owners of the TV content get paid. However, eventually, folks will be exclusively watching YouTube or Hulu or other content that can only be seen via broadband—instead of content that’s also seen on the TV networks. That competition for eyeballs is already starting, but not a major factor yet.