OTA TV Homes Include 46 Million Consumers

New research shows minorities and younger consumers are more likely to rely on broadcasting, with 15% of homes exclusively OTA.

According to new research by Knowledge Networks, the number of Americans now relying exclusively on over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasting in their home increased to almost 46 million, up from 42 million a year ago. The recently completed survey also found that the demographics of broadcast-only households skew towards younger adults, minorities and lower-income families.

The 2011 Ownership Survey and Trend Report, part of the Home Technology Monitor research series, found that 15% of all U.S. households with TVs rely solely on over-the-air signals to watch TV programming; this compares with 14% of homes reported as broadcast-only for the previous three years. Overall, KN estimates that more than 17 million households representing 45.6 million consumers receive television exclusively through broadcast signals.

“As we’ve seen for the past few years, over-the-air households continue to make up a sizeable portion of the television viewing landscape,” says David Tice, VP and group account director of KN’s Media practice. “Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming, and that the estimated number of broadcast TV households in the U.S. has grown.”

The survey found a small but notable number of homes that have canceled pay TV service at their current home. According to the study, 4% of TV households, which translates to 5 million TV households, eliminated pay TV service in their current home at some point in the past and now rely only on over-the-air reception. Of these homes, most report overall cost-cutting (71%) or not enough value for cost (30%) as the reason for doing so (respondents could give more than one reason).

The survey found some minority groups are more dependent on broadcast reception than the general population, including one-fourth of Asian households and 17% of African-American households. In addition, 23% of Hispanic homes are broadcast-only, a proportion that increases to 27% among homes in which Spanish is the language of choice. In all, minorities make up 40% of all broadcast-only homes.

Homes headed by younger adults are also more likely to access TV programming exclusively through broadcast signals. Twenty percent of homes with a head of household age 18-34 are broadcast only, compared with 15% of homes in which the head of household is 35-54, or 13% of homes in which the head of household is 55 years of age or older.


Lower-income households also trend towards broadcast-only television, with 23% of homes with an annual income under $30,000 receiving TV signals solely over-the-air. In comparison, 11% of homes with incomes greater than $30,000 rely exclusively on broadcast signals.

The Home Technology Monitor is a service that tracks both ownership of more than 100 media technology devices and services and the ways that people are using those devices in everyday life. The Home Technology Monitor leverages KnowledgePanel is based on a representative sample of the full U.S. population. The 2011 Ownership Survey and Trend Report is based on a survey, fielded in March and April 2011 on Knowledge Network’s probability-recruited research panel, comprised of interviews with a total of 3,343 households. The interviews included representative proportions of cell-phone-only, non-Internet and Spanish-speaking homes. The standard error range for a question asked of the total sample is approximately +/- 2%.

Comments (19)

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len Kubas says:

June 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Or as “Orange” Julius Genachowski would put it: “Only 46 million households.” But, he’ll have trouble with minorities and younger (presumably gertting paid less) being hardest hurt by screwing with broadcasting, won’t he?

    Warren Harmon says:

    June 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Very true, but I thought they were just going to hand out free cable to the minorities like they do everything else.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    June 6, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    You really need to read the news instead of constantly posting about the Headline. 46 million consumers = 15 million households.

    len Kubas says:

    June 6, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Or, I need to pay more attention. Mixing hh with viewers is a rookie mistake, and rookiedom was more than a few decades back for I.

Warren Harmon says:

June 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Some of those interviewed that gave more than one reason were likely to have also noted the improved quality and definition in OTA these days compared to the Wide Band Analog Tuners of NTSC Analog transmissions that gave OTA a bad name. As a boomer, I remember when we had great Analog OTA tuners, they were slug tuned coils and or turrets with coils for each channel and could reject all the out of band noise generated by unshielded systems. People began to leave OTA with all the sparklies and harring bone created by household systems that blasted thier way right through those wide band electonic tuners. Just my two cents worth, and probably giving away my age a little.

Dante Betteo says:

June 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Yes I remember the Fined tune knob on VHF. And I remember the 14 to 83 VFO tuner. I still have my CS 8200 Wiengard on a 50 ft tower. I need to upgrade to HD 8200 and all new coax.

Harry A. Jessell and Mark K. Miller says:

June 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Over The Air TV is great. Just watched the NBA Finals over the air and the HD signal was at least four times better than the ABC signal off my cable provider. I also watch Biz Television over the air and there is some exciting programming I can use out there. I have played with three different antennas and some work better than others but with the better ones I get 61 free channels in the DFW market. is one of the channels to check out.

Brian Bussey says:

June 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm

yo, homebrew, If minorities got all the free land, oil wells, and subsidized everything else that you white folks have received over the last 400 years, I am quite confident we would be treating you thieving wasps with a little more respect. Broadcast
is timeless and untouchable. In a economy where 5% of the population is swimming in 50% of America’s wealth, folks with sense know that 80-90% of cable programming is still re-runs of broadcast shows, shopping channels, and out of market sports that 8 guys in a bar actually give a crap about. 6 feeds of one movie channel does not a network make all for $150. bucks per month.

Brian Bussey says:

June 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm

also, my Zenith tube tv in my garage, (sports viewing_, is like 10 years older than my children and has a great picture. It just wont die.

Hans Schoonover says:

June 6, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Less TV Station viewers with TV sets = higher OTA percentages! >>>>>>
Forbes reported…..The percent of U.S. households with a television set fell to 96.7 percent from 98.9 percent, said Nielsen, which tallies viewers for TV networks and advertisers. The number overall of U.S. households with televisions fell to 114.7 million from the 115.9 million reported in last year’s survey. That means 1.2 million fewer American households have televisions. By 2011, there will be 110 million Internet-ready TV’s in the world. By 2013, there will be 60 million Internet-ready TV’s in the United States alone. ….
>>>> Facebook’s Christian Hernandez Gallardo is “dying” to make a TV programming guide powered by Facebook. “Where we wanna go with television is creating a social experience.

    len Kubas says:

    June 6, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    fools are everywhere, even ones who don’t understand figures, and live on the words in headlines.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    June 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    “live on words in the headlines” hmmmmmmm

mike tomasino says:

June 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Went to a local resturant and talked to the regulars. One of the managers said her sister couldn’t watch the NBA finals because her roommate hadn’t hooked the cable up yet. I was like aren’t they on ABC? Why don’t they just get an over the air antenna. One of the other regulars said: “You can’t pick anything up on an over the air antenna anymore.” I was like: “Who told you that? The best HD picture available comes in over the air, cable degrades the signal.” What happens when people actually start to realize in mass that OTA exists and that it beats cable and satellite as far as picture quality and value per dollar is concerned?

    len Kubas says:

    June 6, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    cable’s uncounted victims.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    June 6, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Actually, FiOS is at least as good as OTA and as Broadcasters take bandwidth for D2/D2 and Mobile, the OTA signal is suffering. Some stations are feeding a HIGHER QUALITY signal to the Cable Head End than they are now broadcasting, so your comments are not exactly accurate.

    len Kubas says:

    June 6, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    From what I’ve seen of FIOS, it’s not quite there vis-a-vis CBS, but FIOS has many other advantages. Your points about M/H and subchannels is well taken. However, feeding a better quality than air to headend sounds fishy. Are you talking [email protected] 4:2:2? One suspects not, and some stations do lower their air quality to fit more into their 19.39. Of course, the quality fed to cable isn’t necessarily the quality that cable viewers see. I never see impairments in CNN HD, but in the broadcast channels, especially the SPTS ones, all the time on cable.

    mike tomasino says:

    June 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    FiOS only covers a realitively small part of the U.S. and their is a reason that they are growing while traditional cable is going down. And, most cable companies compress the signal they receive. Now, it is possible that some stations supply feeds that are higher quality than the broadcast feed it doesn’t happen in my area, and my area doesn’t have FiOS. In my area DirecTV has better PQ than cable, and DirecTV gets its signal OTA and compresses it, so my comments were accurate.

bob nelson says:

June 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm

This stat does not supprise me at all. I am only suprised that more have not caught on. I have tested several of the leading antennas out there and have found one to stand out – and that is the Leaf Indoor Antenna. It is the number one selling indoor antenna on amazon and it only costs $44. You can also get a 5$ off promo code at KilltheCableBill.

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