nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

US TV homes, devices, and services: 2019

Television homes hit a record 120.6 million for the new TV season. Here are penetrations of the devices and services that consumers are using with them.

The number of TV homes increases by 0.6%

Nielsen says the number of homes with television for the 2019-2020 season increased 0.6% over 2018-2019. There are now 120.6 million homes with at least one TV set in the US. The number of television homes rose for the fourth consecutive year in a row.

Over the last twelve years, the number of TV homes has had its ups and downs. For example, between 2011 and 2013, TV homes declined to reach a low of 114.2 million. The fall was likely caused by the introduction of the tablet and the initial growth of SVOD services. Apple launched the iPad in 2010. By 2013, Netflix already had 33 million U.S. subscribers. Not surprisingly, connected devices like tablets proved very popular streaming devices.

In recent years, viewing dynamics have shifted back to the television. The broadening of the SVOD market and introduction and vMVPD services created a strong demand for connected TVs. The result has been the resumption in growth in TV households. In the last four years, two million homes that didn’t have a television have acquired one.

What’s connected to the television?

According to Nielsen, the most popular device connected to a television is a DVD or Blu-ray player. 61% of TV homes have one. However, the device is sinking in popularity. Between June 2018 and 2019, the number of homes with one fell 5%.

DVRs suffered their first decline in TV penetration for ten years or more. Over the last year, the number of TV homes with one declined by 1%, to 54%.

Enabled smart TVs are on a growth trajectory that likely will see them eclipse DVR and DVD player penetration by this time next year. The penetration increased by 8%, to 47%, in the last year.

Internet-connected devices like Apple TV and Roku sticks and boxes are now in 41% of TV homes. Though the pace of growth is slowing, the devices still increased penetration 3% over the last year.

Finally, 42% of TV homes a game console connected, unchanged from one year ago.

What services are people using?

Pay-TV remains the most-watched service through televisions. There were 88.3 million cable, satellite, and telco TV subscriptions at the end of the second quarter of 2019, a decline of 5.4% from one year earlier.

The number of homes watching over-the-air TV inched up 0.3% over the last year to reach 16 million.

There are now about 9 million vMVPD subscriptions in the U.S., robust performance for an industry that has only been in existence for four years. The services were first introduced with the launch of Sling TV in February of 2015.

Finally, there are now 10.2 million TV homes relying solely on broadband for their TV entertainment. However, most homes in the U.S. now use multiple TV services. For example, three-quarters of US homes have at least one SVOD service subscription.

Why it matters

The number of TV homes in the U.S. has shown substantial growth for the last four years.

The growth is due to the growing number of people watching through connected TV devices.

Though traditional pay-TV is the most popular service, it is declining. vMVPDs, SVOD, and free ad-supported TV services are all growing actively.

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