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Cross-Platform Report Q3 2011

2 minute read | February 2012

Americans spend more than 33 hours per week watching video across the screens. But how they’re consuming video — traditional TV and otherwise — is ever-changing thanks to availability and advancements, ease-of-use and economics. Whether streaming or satellite, over-the-air or over-the-top, understanding how consumers are tuning in is more important than ever.

This report features information and insights on how consumers in the U.S. are engaging with broadband, time-shifted viewing, streaming video, traditional TV and more.

Consumers are staying connected. The vast majority (90.4%) of U.S. TV households pay for a TV subscription (cable, telephone company or satellite), while roughly three-quarters (75.3%) opt for broadband Internet. That’s a lot, and the percentage of homes has remained stable despite a poor economy and a multitude of entertainment options available to consumers. In fact, since last year, the number of homes paying for both a TV subscription and broadband has increased 5.5 percent.

Changes are afoot, however, as consumers seek out the subscription service that makes the most sense for them. The number of homes subscribing to wired cable has decreased 4.1 percent in the past year at the same time that telephone company-provided (telco) and satellite TV have seen increases of 21.1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Nearly a million more homes are subscribing to broadband while skipping a traditional paid TV subscription. There are 5.1 million broadcast-only/broadband homes, compared to 80.8 million cable-plus/broadband homes and 22.3 million homes that subscribe to cable-plus and no broadband. Though broadcast only/broadband homes comprise the smallest subscriber group, the number of these homes has increased by 22.8 percent since Q3 2010.

The increase in broadcast-only/broadband homes is the most significant of any category, though it is not necessarily an indication of downgrading services. Rather, this could reflect broadcast-only homes upgrading to broadband as their needs change. Further underscoring the importance placed on broadband Internet, the number of homes subscribing to cable-plus and no broadband decreased 17.1 percent since last year.

The proportion of ethnic households opting for specific TV distribution sources—cable, telco and satellite—has also shifted. Wired cable is still the top subscription choice for White, African-American, Hispanic and Asian households, but it now represents a smaller share of paid-TV subscriptions than it did in just Q1 of 2011. Those subscribing to satellite has remained relatively stable, as have broadcast-only households of all ethnicities.

Interestingly, the biggest shift between subscription types has been among Asians. While nearly two-thirds of Asians subscribed to wired cable in Q1 2011, that number is now just half (at 51%). And, 12 percent of Asians now opt for telco delivery, up from nine percent in 2010. Hispanic homes are more likely to be broadcast-only (15%) or pay for satellite (34%) than any other ethnicity.

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