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"Zero TV": Bad News for NAB During the NAB Show

As the moguls of the broadcasting industry gather in Las Vegas for the annual NAB Show this week and the FCC commissioners travel west despite the sequester (no doubt remembering what happened when Reed Hundt had the chutzpah to go to a conflicting major ITU conference rather than genuflect before NAB in Las Vegas), the news shown at right is appearing in media outlets across the country. We have chosen the screenshot from CBS News to show that this is not the imagination of antibroadcasting forces at CTIA. But the same content is appearing in numerous news outlets, including today’s Washington Post.

On March 11, Nielsen (“We study consumers in more than 100 countries to give you the most complete view of trends and habits worldwide”) announced
Nielsen 67

“It’s true. Most people watch TV in their living rooms using traditional cable or satellite options. In fact, more than 95 percent of Americans get their information and entertainment that way. But as we explored what the other 5 percent are doing, we found some interesting consumer behaviors that we want to keep an eye on.This small group of video enthusiasts is tuning out traditional TV—and the trend is growing. This “Zero-TV” group, which makes up less than 5 percent of U.S. households, has bucked tradition by opting to get the information they need and want from non-traditional TV devices and services.”

While the Zero TV homes are only 5% of US households, the number has increased by a factor of 2.5 in the past 6 years and Nielsen found that “these video homes tend to be younger with almost half under the age of 35” - the same prime demographic that advertisers, other than AARP and Republican candidates, seek.

Bloomberg reported today

Together, the major broadcasters account for more than 21 percent of prime-time viewing in the current TV season, down from almost 75 percent in the early 1950s, before cable programmers emerged, according to Nielsen data.

So as the mechanism of the incentive auction slowly moves on to the 2014 deadline maybe TV broadcasters should think more about whether their business model should be pumping hundreds of kilowatts of RF power into the ether when it is rarely received by anyone other than headends of cable and other non broadcast video distributors, or should it be putting together packages of compelling programming and distributing it by whatever mechanism is appropriate for our era.

For good news about broadcasting, click below:

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