TV Ownership is Declining
New Nielsen numbers say that several factors are contributing to the decline of U.S. TVs.
May 06, 2011 by Rachel Cericola

We know that a lot of Electronic House readers are doing their part. However, it’s looking like TV ownership is actually declining.

New numbers from the Nielsen Company say that the digital transition, the economy, and the availability of multiple viewing platforms are all contributing factors. The findings are part of Nielsen’s “2012 Advance/Preliminary TV Household Universe Estimate (UE).”

Based on 2010 Census counts, the UE’s findings says that TV penetration will go from 98.9 percent in 2011 to 96.7 in 2012. If we’re talking actual numbers, Nielsen says there will be 115.9 million TVs in 2011 and 114.7 million in 2012.

Nielsen says that this is the first time we’ve seen this kind of drop in two decades.

According to the report, many families could not afford to upgrade for the 2009 digital transition—causing a dip in TV penetration. The economy didn’t exactly help matters.

On the other hand, just because someone doesn’t have a TV, it doesn’t mean they aren’t watching TV. The report says that younger consumers are viewing online and on mobile devices, making the actual TV less of a necessity.

“The media marketplace continues to evolve and become more complex. Some consumers are clearly being driven by the economy to make choices on the media devices they purchase. Others are expanding their equipment to add more audio/video devices to their home. Still others may be deferring a TV purchase or replacing their TV with a computer,” said Pat McDonough, senior VP of Nielsen’s Insights and Analysis. “Nielsen’s cross-platform media strategy will allow us to measure all of this content and report the total picture of video consumption to our clients regardless of delivery method. As the census data shows that we are a more diverse country, our measurements evolve to reflect our diversity and also to encompass all the ways that Americans consume media.”

Nielsen plans to adjust local UEs with the changes to be released in late August 2011 for the 2011-12 TV season and in the future.

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at

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