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Press release
Media and Entertainment|Technology|Media Measurement|Connected Consumer|Tech Trends|United States|English

One-Quarter of US Households Live Without Cable, Satellite TV Reception – New GfK Study

New York, NY, 13.07.2016

Almost four in ten homes with an 18- to 34-year-old resident rely on broadcast-only or Internet-only alternatives

New findings from GfK show that US TV households are embracing alternatives to cable and satellite reception. Levels of broadcast-only reception and Internet-only video subscriptions have both risen over the past year, with fully one-quarter (25%) of all US TV households now going without cable and satellite reception.

The research, from GfK’s 2016 Ownership and Trend Report from The Home Technology Monitor™, shows that 17% of US TV households now rely on broadcast-only (a.k.a. “over-the-air” or OTA) reception, up from 15% in 2015. Another 6% say they only use Internet services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or YouTube and do not have traditional broadcast or pay TV reception at all; this compares with 4% a year ago.

Click here to access an infographic based on this study.

TV households with a resident between 18 and 34 years old are much more likely to be opting for alternatives to cable and satellite; 22% of these homes are using broadcast-only reception (versus 17% of all US households), and 13% are only watching an Internet service on their TV sets (versus 6% of all TV homes). Overall, 38% of 18-to-34 households rely on some kind of alternative TV reception or video source, versus 25% of all homes.

On the other hand, households with at least one resident age 50 or above have higher rates of subscribing to cable or satellite services. More than eight in 10 (82%) have some sort of pay TV subscription, versus 75% of all US TV households. The difference comes almost exclusively in levels of cable subscription, with 46% of 50+ homes paying for cable reception, compared with a US average of 41%.

“The fact that a statistically significant increase in broadcast-only reception occurred over just one year may be further proof that the cord-cutting/cord-never phenomenon is accelerating,” says David Tice, SVP in GfK’s Media & Entertainment practice. “If you include homes that have no TVs at all – about 3% of all households – then less than three quarters (73%) of US homes continue to have pay TV service, with the attendant implications for all stakeholders – not just the pay TV services themselves, but also networks, content providers, and advertisers.”

Broadcast-only reception is more common in TV households earning under $30,000 per year (26%, versus 17% among all TV homes) and those with Hispanic residents (24%). Households with incomes of $50,000 a year or more post higher levels of satellite subscription – 27%, compared to an average of 21%.

The new study, part of GfK’s The Home Technology Monitor™ report series, was conducted among 3,009 US  households, including representative levels of non-TV, non-internet, cell-phone-only, and Spanish dominant homes. The report shows levels of ownership and subscription for dozens of media-related devices and services, with trends back to the 1980s in some cases. Topics covered include ownership of: 

• television sets, TV-connected devices, internet-connected TV sets, and pay TV service
• mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and satellite radio
• computers, online service in the home, and subscription to digital video services

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