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America’s Over-the-Air Audience Remains Steady Amid Streaming Era

Photo by Fran Jacquier via Unsplash

America’s Over-the-Air Audience Remains Steady Amid Streaming Era

By Movieguide® Contributor

According to recent findings by Nielsen, America’s over-the-air audience stands resilient amidst the digital streaming boom.

“There is no mistaking the impact of connectivity on how audiences are watching TV. In just the past five years, the number of households in the U.S. that get their TV content from an internet connection has increased by more than 210%,” Nielsen reported. “The allure of an internet’s worth of content notwithstanding, a smaller, yet consistent, portion of TV homes continue to thrive on the over-the-air (OTA) broadcast programming they access for free using digital antennas—even when more than 70% of homes now have at least one smart TV.”

“Nielsen’s 2024 Upfronts/NewFronts Guide revealed that, as of November 2023, more than 18% of U.S. TV households had at least one TV set enabled to receive free, broadcast programming. Given the many content options available to audiences, however, few homes rely solely on their digital antennas for TV content,” Nielsen reported.

In the third quarter of 2023, OTA homes accounted for 14.5% of television households in the United States. The number has only increased by 0.5% since 2019. The highest concentration of OTA homes is in Oklahoma City, OK, at 37.3%, and Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M., at 35.9%.

“Most complement their OTA access with content they can access from other sources. Sixty percent, for example, subscribe to a streaming video-on-demand service. The same is true of households that have cable or satellite services: In fact, nearly 4% have at least one OTA-enabled TV set,” Nielsen said.

Per tech research firm Parks Associates, 30% of OTA households prefer to have antennas to watch live news, and 20% prefer them for live TV, sports, and movies.

“The consistency of OTA programming access, inclusive of virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs; e.g., Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sling TV) usage, highlights TV audiences’ ongoing engagement with traditional, linear programming. In fact, approximately 92% of TV households, regardless of classification, watched some form of linear programming between October 2022 and October 2023,” Nielsen said.

OTA users primarily consist of users with median ages of 63 (with no subscription video on demand), 48 (with subscription video), and 53 (with virtual multichannel video programming distributors and subscription video).

While OTA broadcasts persist, streaming is still the main way Americans like to view TV and movies. In 2023, Americans streamed 339.5 billion minutes of content.

Movieguide® recently reported on other Nielsen data:

Nielsen recently revealed that the average adult spends more than half of their time on media and TV each day.

“TV engagement has normalized following the heights reported during the pandemic, and the explosion of choice is no longer inspiring increases in TV usage. On average, the typical adult spends more than 10 hours each day with media, with about half dedicated to TV content,” Nielsen revealed in its “Tops of 2023: TV” report.

Excessive screen time can cause digital eye strain (DES), blindness, distraction, depression, anxiety, unhappiness, poor sleep and other things that hinder development and mental health.

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.