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CEA releases latest US stats on Internet vs TV viewing

According to a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), The Market for US Household Television Services, the percentage of US households with a television that relies exclusively on an antenna for television programming reception (six percent) is about to be eclipsed for the first time ever by the percentage of households relying only on the Internet for TV programming (five percent). CEA data since 2005 shows a continuous decline in the percentage of US TV households relying only on antennas for programming.

“We are at a pivotal point in consumer behaviour, as fewer and fewer American homes are now using only antennas to watch their favourite television programs, and more and more households turn to the Internet as a source of TV content,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. “In 1986, more than half of American homes with a TV relied solely on free, over-the-air broadcasting. But our study reveals that just six percent of US TV households now watch TV programming exclusively through an over-the-air signal. This continues a nine-year, downward trend that shows antenna-only viewership remains at all-time lows and an upward trend of consumers watching video programming when and where they choose.”

Despite phenomenal growth in tablet and smartphone penetration rates, televisions are still the most widely used viewing devices according to the study. TVs have the highest household penetration of any viewing devices (97 percent) and strongest video content viewership (93 percent), especially now that Internet-enabled televisions have reached mainstream consumers. 

According to the study, viewership of video programming on connected devices continues to grow. Nearly half of TV user households watched video on either a portable computer or smartphone in the last year, and more than a third watched on either a tablet or desktop computer. Specifically:

  • 46 percent of US TV user households watched video on either a laptop, notebook or netbook (up from 38 percent in 2013)
  • 43 percent watched video on a smartphone (up from 33 percent in 2013)
  • 35 percent watched video on a tablet (up from 26 percent in 2013)
  • 34 percent watched video on a desktop computer (up from 30 percent in 2013)

Additionally, the study shows the percentage of US TV households consuming at least some TV programming via the Internet has nearly doubled. Almost half of US TV households (45 percent) received at least some television programming from the Internet in the last year, a 17 point increase from the previous year (28 percent).

“In the next year, we expect the number of US households relying exclusively on the Internet for TV programming to equal or surpass the total of those relying only on antennas,” adds Shapiro. “As consumers continue to turn to other devices and services for TV programming – devices that need wireless spectrum to deliver the content we want anytime, anywhere – it’s clear that the free, public spectrum given to broadcasters could be put to much better use.”

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