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Free TV Viewership On The Rise: Report

A new study presents some unconventional wisdom in this digital age: the viewership of over-the-air broadcast television, a.k.a. free TV, is actually increasing, and to borrow from Mark Twain, the reports of the death of free TV have been greatly exaggerated.

While there has a lot written about how more and more consumers go online for their entertainment content, GfK media, a research firm that produced the study, claims that consumers aren’t cutting the cord as fast as anticipated.

About 18% of U.S. households now rely on free TV, according to the report, which is an increase over previous years.

Dave Tice, a GfK analyst, provided further information in a blog post:

We found that 17.8% of TV homes report broadcast-only reception, compared with levels of 14% to 15% going back five years. Projected out, this means that around 21 million homes rely only on over-the-air broadcast rather than pay TV service.

As the New York Post observes…

Despite all the talk about “cord cutting” and people watching shows online, this marks the first year since the recession that the firm has seen a notable uptick in broadcast-only viewers, as sustained unemployment takes a toll on household budgets.

A spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters responded to these findings:

Obviously this demonstrates that, contrary to conventional wisdom, over-the-air TV viewership is growing, not declining. That shouldn’t surprise anyone given the pay TV cord-cutting phenomenon. This demonstrates that tomorrow’s world will be both broadcasting and broadband and that local TV stations have an exceedingly bright future.

Tice concedes that an improving economy, if that occurs, could be the real test of this alleged trend, i.e, if consumers maintain their broadcast-only access when they have more money in their pocket.

Have you cut back on or cancelled your cable or satellite service in the last year in order to save money?