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NYT on the Drop in Television Ownership

The NYT reports today that ownership of television sets has fallen by just over 2 percent, the first drop recorded in 20 years.  The main reason is cost: poor families cannot afford to purchase new digital televisions and antennas following television’s transition to digital in 2009. Additionally, a growing number of mostly younger people are reported to watch most of their T.V. shows and movies online, and see no need to purchase a set or pay for cable:

The Nielsen Company, which takes TV set ownership into account when it produces ratings, will tell television networks and advertisers on Tuesday that 96.7 percent of American households now own sets, down from 98.9 percent previously.

There are two reasons for the decline, according to Nielsen. One is poverty: some low-income households no longer own TV sets, most likely because they cannot afford new digital sets and antennas.

The other is technological wizardry: young people who have grown up with laptops in their hands instead of remote controls are opting not to buy TV sets when they graduate from college or enter the work force, at least not at first. Instead, they are subsisting on a diet of television shows and movies from the Internet.

That second reason is prompting Nielsen to think about a redefinition of the term “television household” to include Internet video viewers.

Full story here.

Nat Brown is a former deputy web editor of Foreign Affairs and a former deputy managing editor of National Review Online.


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