About one in seven American households is watching old-fashioned, over-the-air television broadcasts, an increasingly appealing choice for former cable customers who have “cut the cord” but still want to catch up with their local news and network stations.
The new data from market research firm Nielsen shows that over-the-air viewing increased to 14% of all homes last year from 9% in 2010. At the same time, the percentage of households subscribing to cable or satellite TV peakedat 88% in 2010 and has since sunk to 79%, according to surveys by the Leichtman Research Group. Catching free over-the-air broadcasts simply by adding an antenna that cost $50 or less likely appeals to many cord cutters who dropped cable TV because it was too expensive.
But there are two distinct groups watching broadcast TV, Nielsen said. About 40% of over-the-air viewing households watch no other video services from the internet. These households skew older, with a median age of 55, and are less likely to own smartphones and tablets than the average house. Only 27% have children in their home and only 20% have an internet connection and devices capable of watching online video services.