Report: Video Streamers Covet TV Antenna

It may be a digital world driven by over-the-top video distribution. But as millennials opt away from traditional pay-TV, they are also embracing the old-school TV antenna, according to a new report.

Horowitz Research suggests that while TV viewers in the U.S. are experimenting with online TV services such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue, among others, they are increasingly opting for digital antennas.

The study finds that 34% of TV content viewers are accessing OTT video content via digital antennas, which came about following the federal government’s mandated switch from analog to digital TV transmission.

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Antenna owners are younger (40% of antenna owners are 18-34 vs. 31% of total TV content viewers) and skew male (59% vs. 49% of total TV content viewers).

Among non-pay-TV subscribers, 51% report owning an antenna. Antenna owners are more likely to subscribe to one of the three major SVOD services (78% subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, vs. 67% of TV content viewers). Antennas are also popular in traditional pay-TV subscriber households: 30% of traditional subs report owning an antenna.

Horowitz’s data suggest antenna owners spend 19% of their time using an antenna, 44% streaming, and 32% through an MVPD, watching live, DVR, VOD and packaged media

“With today’s stronger signals and advances in technology, along with improved design aesthetics, antennas are re-emerging as an inexpensive and practical way of accessing TV content,”  Stephanie Wong, director of insights and strategy, said in a statement.

With new technology allowing for the recording of over-the-air content, including TiVo’s Bolt OTA, Plex, and Amazon’s Fire TV Recast, Horowitz said consumers are replacing cable with SVOD services and over-the-air broadcasts.

With the pending rollout of ATSC 3.0, which would allow for 4K resolution and enhanced sound to broadcast TV, Adriana Waterston, SVP of insights and strategy for Horowitz, contends pay-TV’s perceived advantage in picture quality and reliability is waning.

“As the broadcast industry works to improve its standards and achieve widespread adoption of ATSC 3.0 — about 40 markets by 2020, according to NAB — that advantage gap has the potential to shrink, with adoption of over-the-air viewing increasing,” Waterson said.

Thomson Broadcast Eyes Growing Over-the-Air TV Market

With an uptick in over-the-air broadcast television adoption in the United States, Thomson Broadcast said it is expanding its business here in response to what it sees as an “invigorated broadcast TV” market spurred by the deployment of ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV.

Paris-based Thomson made the announcement this week at the 2019 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

Nielsen recently revealed that over-the-air viewing increased to 14% of U.S. households in 2018 — up from 9% in 2010. The growth comes as increasing numbers of pay-TV households drop or streamline the traditional “cable bundle.”

Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC 3.0) is new technology for antennae TVs that enables 4K resolution and enhanced sound. ATSC 1.0 was developed in 1996 for the analog to digital TV switch. ATSC 3.0 works with a home’s broadband connectivity affording viewers with cable/satellite-quality video transmissions.

Thomson, which for the past several years has focused most of its business on the Asian and African broadcast markets, is opening a New York office and distribution center to meet demand for its low-power to high-power TV transmitters.

“We’re also proposing new solutions for the delivery and monetization of ATSC 3.0 content with an all-software suite of encoding, packaging, signaling, metadata management, service quality assurance, content distribution, security monitoring, media migration, media asset management, playout automation and master control,” Jay Yogeshwar, chief strategy officer at Thomson, said in a statement.

Thomson Broadcast currently has 191 television broadcast clients in the U.S. and this “rebirth” in the U.S. market comes after the company was acquired by Groupe Sipromad of Madagascar, a conglomerate that operates in industrial, technology, finance, real estate, tourism, aviation and broadcasting markets.

In addition to the broadcast market, Thomson is also looking into expanding into the U.S. satellite and aerospace markets and plans to partner with a “prestigious” U.S. university to establish an innovation center in North America.

Return of Rabbit Ears? Over-the-Air Antennae Makes Comeback

When the federal government in 2009 mandated broadcast television switch from analog transmission to digital, conventional wisdom assumed the end of over-the-air TV signals.

New data from Nielsen would argue otherwise.

Nearly a decade after the switch, there are 16 million households employing a digital antennae. That’s up 50% from 5 million homes in 2010.

“And as an increasing number of consumers consider a more à-la-carte approach to their TV sources, there is opportunity for [OTA] to continue growing,” Nielsen wrote in a Feb. 13 blog post.

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While 41% of OTA homes do not use an over-the-top video service such as Netflix, the majority do. Indeed, 8% (1.3 million) of OTA households subscribe to online TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV.

Nielsen found TV consumption highest among households without streaming video — a whopping 4.5 hours daily!

This market segment also spent 16 minutes daily watching DVD/Blu-ray Disc content; 15 minutes on “other” TV; 13 minutes on an Internet-connected device; and six minutes playing video games or consuming cable TV.

Notably, consumption of packaged media (DVD/Blu-ray Disc) content fell to seven minutes daily among OTA homes with SVOD and three minutes among homes with both SVOD and online TV.

Nielsen attributed higher fragmentation for TV consumption driven by Internet-connected device usage – despite the fact SVOD homes with and without a online TV still consume more than 60 minutes of broadcast TV daily. Cable TV consumption increased with online TV access, but still lagged behind broadcast viewing.

“Regardless of OTA home type, broadcast TV [remains] a daily go-to source for content on the TV screen,” wrote Nielsen.

 

Research: Increase in Digital Antenna Use Indicates Cord Cutting

The percentage of U.S. broadband households that use digital antennas in their home has steadily increased, reaching 20% near the end of 2017, up from 16% in early 2015, according to new consumer research by Parks Associates.

The increase coincides with a steady decline in pay-TV subscriptions and an increase in OTT video subscriptions, according to the report, “360 View: Access and Entertainment and Broadband Households.”

“Increasingly, consumers are cobbling together their own bundles of content sources. Digital antennas are experiencing a resurgence as consumers consider over-the-air TV and OTT video services as alternatives to pay TV,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research, Parks Associates. “The percentage of ‘Never’ households (households that have never subscribed to pay-TV services) has held steady, and the percentage of households actually cutting the cord has increased between 2015 and 2017. Antennas are an affordable source for local channels to these households.”

Parks Associates noted that high cost and low price/value perception dominate the reasons for service cancellation and bundle shaving. More than 50% of the households that have switched, shaved or cut the cord cite the service is “not worth the cost,” according to Parks Associates.

“Pay-TV providers need to address this value perception gap and re-establish their role as the consumers’ source for interesting content,” Sappington said. “Opportunities are available. Only 46% of pay-TV subscribers are aware that they can access video-on-demand content from their operator, including free programming. Many indicate that they want to purchase online video services through their pay-TV provider and to access the service through their channel guide.”

The report also found:

  • 63% of subscribers who cannot currently restart programs from the beginning find that feature to be appealing;
  • 17% of consumers who cancel their pay-TV service would have stayed with their provider if there were no monthly fees for their set-top boxes;
  • Average fees for standalone broadband have increased nearly 25% since 2010; and
  • 20% of Wi-Fi households experience problems with coverage in their home.