One Third of U.S. Households Have a DVR


Americans love their TVs: The average U.S. household owns 2.93 TV sets, according to new research from Nielsen. That number is up from 2.86 TV sets per household in 2009. But the number of DVRs out there is also rising, as 34 percent of all TV households now own or lease a TiVo (s TIVO) or similar product with time-shifting capabilities, Nielsen says. That’s up from 24 percent in 2009.

Of course, the mere ownership of a device doesn’t say anything about how people are actually watching TV. After all, 65 percent of all U.S. households still own a VCR (down from 72 percent in 2009) — but when was the last time you actually popped in a tape? So how are Americans getting their programming, how big of a factor is HD… and what about cord cutting?

First, the good news for cable companies: Pay TV is not dead. In fact, more consumers are spending money on cable and ADS (alternative delivery systems, that’s satellite, FiOS and AT&T Uverse for you and me) than ever before, with 90 percent of all households paying to receive programming, up from 88 percent in 2009. And the number of TV households using “rabbit ear” antennas has sunk to just nine percent, which is down from 11 percent in 2009.

According to Nielsen, 52 percent pay extra to receive premium programming (up from 46 percent). That trend can most likely be attributed to consumer lust for HD, as 46 percent of all TV households now own at least one HD-capable TV set.

Does that mean cord cutting doesn’t exist? Not necessarily — it only shows that the trend to free oneself from the monthly TV bill has so far been outweighed by people signing up for premium services. However, traditional cable has actually been stagnant. A decade ago, 68 percent of all TV households subscribed to wired cable. In 2010, this number is down to 62 percent.

That shows that people have been perceptive to competing offers, be it from Dish or a telco provider — and more might be willing to jump the ship if they receive the programming they want online. A potential sleeping giant in this context are game consoles, which 41 percent of all U.S. TV households own. Netflix recently started to stream its Watch Instantly catalog to the Wii, and Microsoft is reportedly in talks to bring both scripted content and live sports to the Xbox.

Photo courtesy of (CC-BY-SA) Flickr user tnarik.

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