The need for TV, cable and iPod is shrinking


The Pew Research Center repeated a long-standing survey to determine what Americans consider to be a necessity as opposed to a luxury. Television surprisingly straddles the dividing line. At least most of the items asked about suffered shrinkage in the current economy. And although there were no direct questions about radio, there is good news to be found for radio operators in the miniscule number of people who think an iPod is a necessity.

In 2006, 64% of Americans considered a television set a necessity; the rest, a luxury. Now, only 52% call it a necessity.

Cable service didn’t fall quite as much, but it didn’t start out nearly so high either, dropping from 33% to 23%.
For some, it’s not enough to have a television set – it must be a flat screen. That number is actually up 3% since the last survey.

There’s at least a small amount of encouragement for the radio crowd – only 4% of Americans find an iPod to be a necessity. On the plus side for iPod, that’s a surge of 1% since 2006. Are you scared of that massive growth rate, radio operators?

Computers are holding strong, losing only 1%, and access to high-speed internet was one of the few growth categories, going up 2%.

To see how consumer electronic fit into the overall spectrum, here’s Pew’s list, the percentage who find it a necessity and the change since 2006.

Car (88%) (-3%)

Landline phone (68%) (na)

Clothes dryer (66%) (-17%)

AC (54%) (16-%)

TV set (52%) (-12%)

Home computer (50%) (-1%)

Cell phone (49%) (0%)

Microwave (47%) (-21%)

High-speed internet (31%) (+2%)

Cable/satellite TV (23%) (-10%)

Dishwasher (21%) (-14%)

Flat screen TV (8%) (+3%)

iPod (4%) (+1%)

Source: Pew Research Center

RBR/TVBR observation: Since we don’t personally know anybody who does not have a television in their residence, and most of the people we know have two or more, we were very surprised television didn’t have a much higher necessity rating back in 2006. It seems most everyone has some kind of MP3 or iPod device to, but clearly they haven’t yet achieved must-have status.