Hip Kids Contribute to TV Ownership Decline

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A home without a TV isn’t quite as unheard of as it used to be.

New research from the Nielsen Company found that 96.7 percent of American homes have at least one television, down from 98.9 percent the last time Nielsen took count. This is the first time in 20 years that TV ownership has declined.

Nielsen partly blames the drop on poverty combined with broadcast television’s switch from analog to digital. The new broadcast method requires a digital tuner or an HDTV with the tuner built-in, so poor families may avoid new televisions altogether if their old TVs break. And because digital reception is worse than analog in some rural areas, upgrading may still leave some homes without live television.

The other reason, Nielsen says, is the tendency of some college graduates and young professionals to rely on their laptops for entertainment. They may buy new televisions later, but they’re not rushing out to get one after graduation.

Regardless of whether the trend continues or not, the study is bad news for subscription TV providers, and not just because fewer people have a TV. These viewers are being exposed to a world of content without cable, with services like Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and Amazon. Even after these users can afford a television in the living room, some may question the benefits of paying $50 for a whole bunch of content they don’t need.

(via the New York Times)