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TV ownership drops for first time in 20 years

updated 01:00 pm EDT, Tue May 3, 2011

Nielsen notes Internet helping TV ownership drop

The number of TV owners in the US has dropped for the first time in two decades, Nielsen discovered in a study posted Tuesday. Although slight, ownership dropped from 98.9 percent in the last study to 96.7 percent in early 2011. Results had first shown signs of change in 2008 but hadn't become as clear until this year, said the researchers.

Nielsen explained the drop as a balance between technology and economic class divisions. Some of those who either didn't have a TV or had given theirs up were cord-cutters who had found Internet video enough to replace traditional TV. A newer generation not dependent on TV was also suspected of playing a role and was often deciding not to have a TV at all when they moved out.

Many others, however, were simply too poor to afford a TV in the wake of the late 2008 economic crash. A large portion of those giving up TV had incomes under $20,000 per year. While it's unclear how many were students, others tended to be either in poverty-stricken or in rural areas where they either couldn't maintain a TV or weren't wealthy enough to get a satellite TV dish instead.

Cable providers have tried to maintain that only the economic factor was hurting subscriber numbers, which have begun to dip in the past year. Nielsen still considers the cord-cutting practice significant enough that it was considering including online viewership as part of its regular TV ratings. The move could trigger a major shift as it would put much greater weight on the importance of Internet viewership with services like Hulu, Netflix or iTunes and could lead to investing in shows that rate poorly on TV but fare much better online. [via NY Times]

By Electronista Staff


  1. icewing

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2008



    it's because most of the stuff is garbage?

  1. lamewing

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2004



    I know a number of students, university and law school show simply eschew TV except for the occasional show that can be download via P2P (international shows), rented or watched on Netflix or Hulu.

    My family has dropped our TV service to the absolute basic U-verse package. The only reason we have basic U-verse is because we must have some level of service if we want to subscribe to TV Japan.

    Our PS3, Xbox 360, Mac Mini and Apple TV allow us to watch pretty much anything we want without "tuning in".

    This isn't just about $$$. People simply have lost interest in most TV.

  1. charlituna

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2009



    does this mean that the networks will finally use multiple sources to 'make good' on a shows budget. OTA Ads, online ads, itunes, etc

    If not, then this 'study' is really no good.

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