U.S. TV Viewers Have Rediscovered Free Viewing With Over-The-Air TV Antennas.


After falling out of favor for many years, over-the-air (OTA) TV--which is received without a cable or satellite subscription--is becoming a big thing again. Nielsen, the U.S. TV rating service, considers it "one of the best things to happen to cord-cutters and cord-shavers, as it offers them free TV through a digital indoor or outdoor antenna." Plus, with the shift to digital broadcasting, OTA viewers are getting more channels--in HD quality.

According to May 2018 Nielsen population estimates, there are over 16 million OTA homes in the U.S., or just over 14 percent of households. In 2010, that number was 11 million. And, as an increasing number of consumers consider a more a-la-carte approach to their television sources, there is opportunity for this segment to continue growing.

These OTA homes are a mix of audience groups that consume TV content in different ways. Some are standard OTA homes that access programming with a digital antenna, but most pair their OTA line-up with streaming services. As of May 2018, 41 percent of OTA homes are traditional, without a streaming service provider, while 59 percent have streaming services.

To further muddy the waters, a third type of OTA home subscribes to a virtual video multichannel programming distributor (vMVPD) commonly known as a "skinny bundle," which allows them to stream cable programs. This group falls directly into the...

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