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Nielsen Sees ‘Resurgence’ In OTA Households

Number of households labeled OTA has nearly doubled in the past eight years

The number of households receiving their television via over-the-air (OTA) antenna now represents 14 percent of all U.S. television households, nearly double what it was eight years ago, according to a new report from Nielsen.

With the television industry being upended by the emergence of multiple streaming options, the result has been declining pay-TV subscriptions and the increasing use of alternate methods of distribution, including the old-fashioned TV antenna.

“As of May 2018, more than 14 percent of all TV households — or 16 million homes — have OTA status, and that number is on the rise,” said Justin Laporte, VP of Local Insights for Nielsen, in its latest “Local Watch Report.” “As consumers look for more on-demand and cost-effective options, there has been a resurgence in this type of television household.””

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In its report, which analyzes the evolving habits of viewers, Nielsen divided these OTA households into two categories: “Plus SVOD,” those households that supplement their viewing options with streaming services such as Hulu (not Hulu Live), Amazon Prime and Netflix; and “No SVOD,” households that get their television strictly via antenna.

There are distinct differences in the demographics and behavior of the two types of households, according to Nielsen.

“The ‘No SVOD’ homes tend to be older, more diverse and have a smaller median income, compared to the ‘Plus SVOD’ segment, which skews younger, more affluent and more device-connected,” Laporte said. “We see different media behavior with Plus SVOD homes consuming less traditional media and spending more time on personal devices. In an average day, the No SVOD homes have more viewing to broadcast stations, at almost five hours, than all of the TV usage combined in Plus SVOD homes.”

A third, but smaller and growing category — part of the “Plus SVOD” group — consists of households that get their programming via streaming services such as DirecTV Now, Youtube TV, Sling TV and others. These “virtual multichannel video programming distributors,” (vMVPD) make up 1.3 million of the Plus SVOD households, according to Nielsen.

“Sharing a similar profile to the Plus SVOD group as a whole, these consumers have a higher median income and access to more devices,” Laporte said. “They also have access to individual cable networks and spend an almost equal amount of time watching broadcast and cable sources.”

Here is the breakdown:

No SVOD: This group represents 6 percent of total U.S. homes, comprising 6.6 million homes in the U.S. This demographic skews older, with over half households of median income of less than 30K. They are also less likely to own mobile devices such as smartphones, streaming devices or tablets.

Plus SVOD: There are 9.4 million homes, representing 8 percent of total U.S. homes that make up this segment. The median viewer age is 36 and the households have a higher average income and more “well connected” with more access to mobile and streaming devices.

Geographically, Milwaukee has the largest percentage of “No SVOD” households: (11.1 percent) and Plus SVOD households (no vMVPD): (16 percent), while Dayton, Ohio has the largest percentage of “Plus SVOD (with vMVPD) households, representing 2.7 percent of all U.S. households.

Regardless of what Nielsen labels them, they are all considered “cord cutters” or “cord nevers” by the industry.