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US homes viewing TV via the internet to surpass viewing only via antenna: CEA study

MUMBAI: A new study titled ‘The Market for US Household Television Services’ by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) says that the percentage of US households with a television that relies exclusively on an antenna for television viewing (6 per cent) is about to be eclipsed for the first time by the percentage of households relying only on the internet for TV programming (5 per cent).

CEA data since 2005 shows a continuous decline in the percentage of US TV households relying only on antennas for programming.

CEA president, CEO Gary Shapiro said, “We are at a pivotal point in consumer behaviour, as fewer and fewer American homes are now using only antennas to watch their favourite television programmes, and more and more households turn to the internet as a source of TV content. In 1986, more than half of American homes with a TV relied solely on free, over-the-air broadcasting. But our study reveals that just six percent of US TV households now watch TV programming exclusively through an over-the-air signal. This continues a nine-year, downward trend that shows antenna-only viewership remains at all-time lows and an upward trend of consumers watching video programming when and where they choose.”

Despite phenomenal growth in tablet and smartphone penetration rates, televisions are still the most widely used viewing devices according to the study. TVs have the highest household penetration of any viewing devices (97 per cent) and strongest video content viewership (93 per cent), especially now that internet-enabled televisions have reached mainstream consumers.

CEA senior VP research and standards Brian Markwalter said, “The television remains the most commonly owned video viewing device and our primary means of watching video content. But significantly more households that use televisions to watch TV programming are now also turning to alternative video devices at home. The explosive growth of Internet programming means consumers now have better options to watch video content on different types of screens they may own.”

According to the study, viewership of video programming on connected devices continues to grow. Nearly half of TV user households watched video on either a portable computer or smartphone in the last year, and more than a third watched on either a tablet or desktop computer.

Additionally, the study shows the percentage of US TV households consuming at least some TV programming via the internet has nearly doubled. Almost half of US TV households (45 per cent) received at least some television programming from the internet in the last year, a 17 point increase from the previous year (28 per cent).

“In the next year, we expect the number of US households relying exclusively on the internet for TV programming to equal or surpass the total of those relying only on antennas. As consumers continue to turn to other devices and services for TV programming—devices that need wireless spectrum to deliver the content we want anytime, anywhere—it’s clear that the free, public spectrum given to broadcasters could be put to much better use,” Shapiro added.