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News Analysis
Why Fewer People Own TVs
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (May 8, 2011) -- Nielsen announced this week that the number of U.S. TV households this year has dropped from 98.9 percent to 96.7 percent. That's the first drop in TV ownership since 1992, the company said.

Nielsen attributed the decline to several possible factors including the 2009 Digital TV transition, mobile video and the expansion of online video.

After Nielsen released its study, many tech sites jumped on the latter two reasons as the real cause, suggesting that many Americans are dropping traditional TV viewing for alternative video.

But I say that's hogwash.

When the federal government forced the Digital TV transition on our country, I
predicted that as many as five percent of viewers could be left behind. Despite the government's effort to help analog TV owners buy digital converter boxes, I said that some low-income consumers would not have the money and/or tech savvy to make the switch to digital.

Consequently, I predicted, they ultimately would discard their analog TVs and simply stop watching.

Now two years later, I believe that the drop in TV ownership can be attributed almost exclusively to the after effects of the digital transition. There is roughly 2-3 percent of the nation who has given on television due to the transition's impact and the nation's economic difficulties.

For them, TV has become too complicated and expensive.

And I don't think they are coming back anytime soon. In this economic environment, they have learned to live without television. When you have $4 a gallon gas, rising food costs and unemployment at nine percent, there are more important things to worry about it.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

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