Web TV soon to beat terrestrial reception in the US

June 6, 2014 20.38 Europe/London By Broadband TV News Correspondent

vintage_tv-setThe percentage of US households with a television that relies exclusively on an antenna for television programming reception (6%) is about to be eclipsed for the first time ever by the percentage of households relying only on the Internet for TV programming (5%).

According to a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), The Market for US Household Television Services, data show that since 2005 there is a continuous decline in the percentage of US TV households relying only on antennas for programming.

“We are at a pivotal point in consumer behavior, as fewer and fewer American homes are now using only antennas to watch their favorite television programs, and more and more households turn to the Internet as a source of TV content,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA.

“In 1986, more than half of American homes with a TV relied solely on free, over-the-air broadcasting. But our study reveals that just 6% of US TV households now watch TV programming exclusively through an over-the-air signal. This continues a nine-year, downward trend that shows antenna-only viewership remains at all-time lows and an upward trend of consumers watching video programming when and where they choose.”

Despite phenomenal growth in tablet and smartphone penetration rates, televisions are still the most widely used viewing devices according to the study. TVs have the highest household penetration of any viewing devices (97%) and strongest video content viewership (93%), especially now that Internet-enabled televisions have reached mainstream consumers.

“The television remains the most commonly owned video viewing device and our primary means of watching video content,” said Brian Markwalter, SVP, research and standards, CEA.

“But significantly more households that use televisions to watch TV programming are now also turning to alternative video devices at home. The explosive growth of Internet programming means consumers now have better options to watch video content on different types of screens they may own.”

According to the study, viewership of video programming on connected devices continues to grow. Nearly half of TV user households watched video on either a portable computer or smartphone in the last year, and more than a third watched on either a tablet or desktop computer. Specifically:

· 46% of US TV user households watched video on either a laptop, notebook or netbook (up from 38 percent in 2013)
· 43% watched video on a smartphone (up from 33 percent in 2013)
· 35% watched video on a tablet (up from 26 percent in 2013)
· 34% watched video on a desktop computer (up from 30 percent in 2013)

Additionally, the study shows the percentage of US TV households consuming at least some TV programming via the Internet has nearly doubled. Almost half of US TV households (45%) received at least some television programming from the Internet in the last year, a 17 point increase from the previous year (28%).

“In the next year, we expect the number of US households relying exclusively on the Internet for TV programming to equal or surpass the total of those relying only on antennas,” said Shapiro.

“As consumers continue to turn to other devices and services for TV programming – devices that need wireless spectrum to deliver the content we want anytime, anywhere – it’s clear that the free, public spectrum given to broadcasters could be put to much better use.”