Yesterday, Nielsen released its Fourth-Quarter 2012 Cross-Platform Report, which revealed that almost 5% of TV households in the United States fall into the “zero TV” category. That means that while they may own a television set they don’t watch television in any of the traditional ways: over-the-air, cable, satellite or telco (telecommunications company like Verizon or AT&T).
The “zero TV” statistic is getting all the headlines but what’s more interesting to me is something Deadline.com reported. Nielsen estimates that there are 11.3 million broadcast-only households who only watch over-the-air television. That’s just under 10% of the 114.2 million TV households but still a lot more than I would have thought.
Depending on their location and what sort of antenna they have, viewers in broadcast-only households can watch the traditional broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW), Spanish-language networks (Univision, Telemundo, etc.), public television stations, digital specialty networks available via digital subchannels like Me-TV, Antenna TV, Cozi TV, This TV, Bounce TV and TheCoolTV, as well as whatever MyNetworkTV and Ion Television are calling themselves these days.
What does this have to do with obscure television? Nothing, really, but it might explain why there are so many digital specialty networks devoted to classic television. When Cozi TV was announced, joining Me-TV, Antenna TV and RTV (Retro Television Network), I wondered if there were enough potential viewers to support so many of these networks. Maybe there are.
When you can count the number of channels you receive on your fingers and toes, getting a new one is probably a bigger deal than it is for someone with cable or satellite who gets 100 or 200 channels and wouldn’t even notice a new one. Digital subchannels give broadcast-only TV households more viewing options. And if those options involve classic television, so much the better.