Despite the attraction of hundreds of channels and multi-service packages, the number of American homes relying solely on over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasting increased from 42 million to 46 million in the past year, according to research from the Knowledge Networks. Households led by younger adults, minorities and lower income families are more likely to rely solely on OTA for television service than other demographic groups.

Fifteen percent of all US households with TVs rely exclusively on OTA signals for watching television as compared to 14% for the three previous years. KN estimates that more than 17 million households, some 45.6 million viewers, watch TV via OTA signals exclusively.

“As we’ve seen for the past few years, over-the-air households continue to make up a sizable portion of the television viewing landscape,” says David Tice, vice president and groups account director of KN’s media practice. “Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming, and that the estimated number of broadcast TV households in the U.S. has grown.”

Four percent of US TV households–5 million of them–canceled pay-TV service and now rely solely on OTA signals. Of these, cost-cutting was cited as the reason by most (71%). Another 30% said “not enough value for cost” was the reason.

Minorities accounted for 40% of all broadcast-only homes. One-fourth of Asian TV households, 23% of Hispanic-American homes–27% where Spanish is the language of choice– and 17% of African-American households were OTA-only.

Households led by young adults are also more likely to be broadcast-only, as were lower income households, according to KN’s latest research report, entitled “The 2011 Ownership Survey and Trend Report,” part of the firm’s The Home Technology Monitor.

Twenty percent of households led by adults aged 18-34 are broadcast-only compared with 15% of those in which the head of household is 35-54 and 13% in which the head of household is 55 or older. 23% of homes with annual incomes under $30K rely solely on broadcast TV as compared to 11% of homes with incomes greater than $30K.

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2 thoughts on “Report: 15% of US Homes OTA Broadcast-Only for TV

  1. What is on those "hundreds" of channels that is worth watching? Clones of American Idol, X-Factor, the Voice, America's Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance/Sing/Comedian/Cook?, Batchelor/Batchelorette clones, "Real" rich/rude Housewives of ……., etc etc etc? I watch less TV now than ever before because of all this reality junk and just stick to local off-air channels, which I don't watch that much either because a great deal of the reality shows are on the regular networks. The fact that most TV stations now carry AntennaTV, ThisTV, and other subchannels that show old classic TV makes up for the lack of anything else to watch. Not to mention that cable and satellite do not carry these multiplex channels, so I have to watch them off-air.

  2. The value of programming that you get for your money on cable is terribly lacking. There are better things to watch on OTA broadcast TV from the antenna. There are sub stations like ThisTV and RTV that offer old quality TV shows from the past that ace anything that cable has to offer. With basic cable offering local TV stations, it is best for anyone to switch to an antenna and put that money in their pocket. The quality of the antenna signal offers a better picture, better color, better audio, and in a lot of cases are more reliable. I will never go back to cable after experiencing OTA broadcast TV.

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