In 2010 GFK Research found just 14 percent of homes rely on Over The Air (OTA) broadcast or Free-TV. By 2012 the 19.3 percent of homes had switched to Free-TV. GFK’s research finds more than 60 percent said they rely on broadcast signals because of the high cost of pay-TV services, not because of Internet video options available. GFK cites the digital television transition as one possible catalyst. In most markets, the digital transition boosted the reception quality and number of HDTV channels available.
GFK estimates 22 million American households are now relying solely on over-the-air (OTA) free broadcast TV as the preferred option over basic digital TV packages offered by Cable, Satellite and Telco providers. The growth in Free-TV and video streaming in the U.S. is not coincidental to the continuing declines in the number of Pay-TV subscribers although Telco TV aggressive pricing has delivered actual growth.
The Pay-TV price hikes can largely be attributed to media industry consolidation resulting in higher retransmission/carriage rates and a growing tail of channels. Channel bundling saw an increase from 129 in 2008 to 189 in 2013. Most viewers only watch on average 17.5 channels of programming and with free OTA broadcast viewers have plenty of on-line options for on demand video streaming. The apparent value gap is pushing many consumers over the chasm from cord-shavers to cord-cutters.
The FCC provides a tool to help consumers find out more about your Local HDTV Broadcast channels.