Number of US Pay TV Households Down 1.3% Y-O-Y in Q1

September 13, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Broadcast & Cable | Hispanic | Television

The number of American homes with a wired cable subscription fell 4.1% year-over-year in Q1 2012, from 62.7 million to 59.8 million, per results [download page] from Nielsen’s latest cross-platform report. By contrast, the number of telephone company-provided (telco) TV households rose by 16.1%, while satellite and broadcast-only households remained relatively flat. Overall, about 9 in 10 US TV households paid for a subscription, though the actual number of paying households was down 1.3% year-over-year. That drop may be due to relatively low customer satisfaction with pay TV services, as observed by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, and comes amid various estimates of cord-cutting and cord-shaving behavior.

Despite the year-over-year drop in wired cable households, the majority (52.3%) of TV households opted for a wired cable subscription in Q1, with the next-highest share (30%) belong to satellite subscribers.

Broadcast TV-Only Broadband Homes Continue to Grow

Data from Nielsen’s “Cross-Platform Report, Q1 2012” indicates that the number of US households foregoing pay TV in favor of a pairing of broadcast TV-only plus broadband internet connection rose 10.3% in Q1 2012 when compared to a year earlier. Those foregoing any pay TV subscription, and also without broadband, decreased by 2.1%. The number of households with a cable subscription and broadband internet dropped slightly year-over-year, as did the number of household with a cable subscription, but without broadband internet.

1 in 3 Hispanic Households Opts For Satellite TV

Wired cable remained the top TV distribution choice in Q1 2012 for white (53%), African-American (54%), Hispanic (45%), and Asian (51%) households, though some differences emerged in preferences for other distribution sources. 15% of Asian households opted for telco, a far greater proportion than any of the other races/ethnicities (who ranged from 7-8%).

Hispanic households were the most likely to be broadcast-only (16%) and pay for satellite (34%).

Heaviest Streamers Watch the Least TV

The heaviest at-home streamers consumed the least TV in Q1, while the lightest TV consumers were the heaviest streamers. Streaming remained a highly concentrated behavior, with 84% of all streaming taking place among the top quintile of consumers who stream. This segment watched an average of 253 daily minutes of TV in Q1, compared to the average of 269.4 minutes.

When sorting by TV viewing behavior, the consumer quintile that watched the most TV, at more than 10 and a half hours daily, also spent the least amount streaming, at just 2.4 minutes per day. However, this top quintile of TV watchers also spent the largest amount of time on the internet, at 27.6 minutes daily. In fact, this internet use ranked above the segment of households that did not watch TV (11.4 minutes).

Other Findings:

  • The number of households with a DVR jumped 9.8% year-over-year in Q1 to almost 48 million. Separate results from the report indicate that the average American spent 24 minutes per day watching DVR content in Q1, up from 21 minutes in Q1 of 2011, and double the time from Q1 2008 (12 minutes).
  • The number of households with a high definition TV also increased rapidly, up 10.4% year-over-year to 83.4 million.

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