NAB report says over-the-air is gaining on pay TV

Broadcasters, who are in an ongoing struggle to remain relevant, have found a reason to be hopeful thanks to a study compiled by GfK Media and Entertainment for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

The survey, which either discounted or dismissed the international growth of IPTV and Internet-based television altogether, determined that over-the-air (OTA) broadcast TV is holding its own and may even be gaining on the pay competition.

According to GfK Media & Entertainment's 2013 Ownership Survey and Tend Report, developed for the broadcasters, 19.3 percent of U.S. households rely on OTA to watch TV programming. This represents a 1.5 percent increase over last year and is evidence that "over-the-air households continue to grow, making up an increasing sizeable portion of television viewers," said David Tice, GfK's senior vice president.

The research firm estimated that 22.4 million households--or about 59.7 million consumers--only watch over-the-air television.

"Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming (and) this year's results confirm the statistically significant growth in the number of broadcast-only TV households in the U.S.," Tice added.

Less impressive, statistics-wise, was the added note that 5.9 percent of TV households cut the cord in 2013, generally for cost-cutting reasons or, as the report put it, because of a lack of perceived value for the pay TV service.

The research broke down the types of consumers who are living with OTA TV and concluded that minorities (41 percent) were the biggest percentage of OTA-only households and that 28 percent of homes led by someone 18 to 34 years old were big OTA followers while only 17 percent of those run by someone 50 or older preferred the OTA route.

Again, without stating whether IP-connected video services such as Netflix were coming into the equation, the report noted that "two out of 10 younger over-the-air households have never purchased a pay TV service."

The report did seem to conclude that pay TV services--not surprisingly--are more popular with people who can afford them.

"Lower-income households also trend towards broadcast-only television, with 30 percent of homes having an annual income under $30,000 receiving TV signals solely over-the-air (up from 22 percent in 2010)," the NAB press release stated. "In comparison, 11 percent of homes with incomes $75,000 or greater currently rely exclusively on broadcast signals, a proportion that has changed little since 2010."

For more:
- the NAB issued this press release

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