With TV antenna use booming, skinny bundles gaining traction and subscription streaming still on the upswing, new findings from Nielsen offer some eye-opening statistics showing how viewers are getting TV programming outside of the traditional pay bundle.
While about 89 million U.S. households still subscribe to pay-TV, according to numbers released last week by Leichtman Research Group, that’s the lowest level since 2007. And thanks to technology, the have-nots still have plenty. About 16 million homes get TV over the air (OTA) with antennas, according to the latest Nielsen data from May 2018. Many of those households also avail themselves of internet-delivered TV options, either virtual MVPD packages (aka skinny bundles) like Sling TV or YouTube TV) or SVOD services like Netflix.
According to Nielsen’s TV panel, 59% of OTA homes have access to SVOD, leaving 41% with no access. Consumers who supplement their OTA viewing with skinny bundles can, of course, stream programs to their smart TVs and mobile devices. Those viewers make up 8% of OTA homes, or about 1.3 million U.S. households.
Topping the list of unbundling markets in cities where Nielsen has Local People Meters (see the rankings below) is Phoenix, which is the No. 12 TV market and the fifth-largest city in the U.S. About 8.4% of households there get TV via an antenna, with another 15.6% subscribing to an SVOD and just shy of 1% getting skinny bundles. That means about 25% of the market has no traditional pay-TV cord.
Milwaukee leads among Set Meter Markets, with nearly 29% of viewing OTA.
“We see a high concentration of OTA homes in the Southwest region, averaging 19% of households in those areas,” Nielsen said in an article accompanying the data. “This makes sense, since this area is popular among Hispanics—a group, according to our profile data—that is 48% more likely to have OTA status than the average U.S home.”
Northeasterners, by contrast, are more likely to stick with cable. (Maybe it’s the trees?) Only 7% of households in the Northeast have antennas and major markets like New York and Boston rank near the bottom for OTA penetration. Milwaukee has the highest penetration for both OTA homes with and without SVOD, while Dayton came out on top for the market most likely to pair OTA with a skinny bundle.
Here are the full rankings: