Engaging CultureMedia Production

New Research Confirms Broadcast TV Still Matters

New research in June by GfK Media indicates the number of Americans now relying on over-the-air broadcast television reception has actually increased to almost 54 million, up from 46 million just a year ago. This is a pretty significant piece of data. In one year, the number of homes getting their TV signals solely over-the-air without cable or satellite has gone up almost 20%. Not a big surprise, the survey found the demographics of broadcast-only households skew towards younger adults, minorities and lower-income families.

“As we’ve seen for the past few years, over-the-air households continue to make up a sizable portion of the television viewing landscape,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President, GfK Media. “Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming, and that in the past year the estimated number of broadcast-only TV households in the U.S. has grown significantly over what we’ve seen at least back to 2008.”

For program producers – depending on your target audience – if your program is delivered only by satellite and cable, you are missing more viewers than you have for decades. As GFK stated in their report: “For the past two years, we’ve seen a lot of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth about cord-cutters – that people were abandoning pay TV for online services; putting the TV model in imminent danger of collapse. The only trouble with these declarations is that there has been very little data to support such conclusions. Much has been based on anecdotes and hearsay – hardly dependable information.”

This is just another case of my theory that when it comes to media platforms, they don’t displace each other, they each just find a new equilibrium. So don’t be a media fanatic who bets the farm on a new device or platform. Advances and progress are important, but anytime you completely abandon an established media platform, you’re also losing a significant portion of your audience.

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  1. We’re in danger, though, in this country of losing a huge chunk of the airwaves folks rely on for this free, over-the-air, means of communication if the current FCC plan for a spectrum auction is not changed to provide for a future for low-power broadcasters. Thanks for this great article/post.

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