Commentary

Number Of TV Sets Decline, Not Screens

Are there fewer television sets in homes? No worries. There are plenty of other screens to sell people TV programming, advertising, home videos and native content.


The Energy Information Administration says that as of 2015, there are now 2.3 TV sets per home. That's down from 2.6 sets in 2009. Surely, the rise of smaller screens accounts for the dip.

Big TV content producers aren’t exactly worried.

That’s because the size of the remaining TV sets keeps climbing -- to around 55 to 60 inches on average. So when you think about it, what we really need to consider is total screen area.

Think time-shifted viewing has allowed home residents to be more efficient with their big-screen TV time? Nielsen says in 2016 there were 56.88 total hours of viewing time per week -- live and time-shifted TV viewing. That's down from 60.07 in 2013.

At the same time, TV set manufacturers haven’t stopped selling the latest and the greatest. They push new technology, such as 4KTVs and OLED technology TV equipment, even though few TV networks/pay TV providers (cable/satellite/telco) are on board with newer TV technologies.

And then we have multitasking of small screens -- real TV/media erosion against the bigger screens. No need for those extra 24” or 32” TVs in the kitchen, dining room, bedrooms and man caves.

Now consider the future. Consumers always want the best TV technology, even if they can’t always “see” it. Perhaps smart TVs will have more future value. They will be fully internet-enabled TV sets, which can seamlessly connect with other screens/devices.

If that doesn’t work, we always go back to the obvious lure: size. What can future living rooms accommodate? I’m guessing we’ll need interior decorators demanding that we commit to an entire wall of TV-media screens in the years to come.

Then you can focus on what you want.

3 comments about "Number Of TV Sets Decline, Not Screens".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 2, 2017 at 9:38 a.m.

    Wayne, those TV "viewing" stats you cited as coming from Nielsen can't be for the average viewer---or the average TV home resident, either, as they are way too high. I assume that they are TV Household set usage numbers, counting any multiple set usage that takes place at the same time as a single home reached. Can you clarify?

  2. Wayne Friedman from MediaPost Communications, August 2, 2017 at 2:44 p.m.

    Nielsen says the average number of hours per week U.S. households spent watching linear live television and DVR programming on TV sets -- assuming multiple set usage -- declined to 56.88 last year from 60.07 in 2013. 

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 2, 2017 at 2:56 p.m.

    Thanks, Wayne. So it's not "viewing" as most of us might use the word but set usage, that Nielsen is referring to. Like Nielsen's viewing estimates, this data shows only a modest decline in "linear TV" consumption over the past few years, not the gigantic migration away from "pay TV" that we keep hearing so much about.

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