us tv ownershipFor nearly 20 years, television manufacturers have experienced a rise in ownership of their devices. But according to new data released by The Nielsen Company, television ownership is declining, with 96.7 percent of American households now owning TV sets, down from 98.9 percent.

Nielsen cites two core reasons for the decline of TV ownership. The first is the economic downturn and lack of financial means, which is preventing people from buying digital TVs and antennas. The second key factor in TV ownership decline should be of core interest to marketers: Nielsen suggests that the younger portion of the population who are digital natives and grew up their entire lives with computers have different information consumption habits. Upon graduating college, these digital natives are opting out of buying TVs and are instead using their computers and the internet for entertainment.

It's possible that the habits of these younger viewers may cause Nielsen to change its definition of a TV household to include internet viewers. This possible change in definition would be a major change for Nielsen as well as advertisers.

Marketing Takeaway

For marketers, television has been a primary marketing channel for many years. While TV ownership has declined, TV is still core to U.S. entertainment today. As a marketer, it will be important to continue to watch the trends of TV ownership over time, especially as advances in licensing allow more traditional TV content to be viewed online.

Additionally, if you are a marketer looking to reach the younger digital native demographic, is it important to consider their shifting information consumption habits. This younger demographic can help to serve as a leading indicator for marketers looking to test new strategies and tactics.

What do you think about this decline in TV ownership?

Marketing Charts

Originally published May 3, 2011 10:08:00 AM, updated March 21 2013