As New Media Universe Expands, So Does Television's

For a medium that supposedly has reached maturity and is poised to wane from the onslaught of new media options, television continues to grow. Well, its universe is expanding, anyway. That's what TV bean counter Nielsen Media Research figures, estimating that the TV universe will expand by 400,000 households when the major TV networks unveil their new prime-time schedules this fall.

While the expansion is statistical--part of a periodic recalibration of the TV household population made by Nielsen to ensure that it is in balance with the overall U.S. population--it at least suggests that TV outlets have a greater audience upside than they did a year ago, when Nielsen estimated that there were 109.6 million TV households.

Effective with the 2005-06 season, Nielsen figures there are now 110.2 million, or an increase of 0.5 percent.

Not surprisingly, the fastest-growing segments of that universe are those of burgeoning ethnic groups--especially Asian and Hispanic, households, which rose 3.2 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. African-American households, a subject of Nielsen's sample and measurement methods during the past year, also grew slightly faster than the general population, rising 0.8 percent.



Ethnicity and race aside, the new Nielsen estimates--which reflect overall trends in the U.S. Census--show that the composition of the TV universe is also changing in terms of age. "In 2006, the oldest [Baby Boomers] will reach age 60, while the youngest will reach age 42. While the percent of total persons in U.S. TV homes increased by approximately 1 percent, there were larger percent increases in the number of persons over age 55," said Nielsen.

Profound shifts in TV households also are taking place geographically, and the 2005-06 local TV market rankings reflect the overall redistribution of the population from Northern industrial markets to warmer climes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60 of the 100 fastest-growing counties are in the southern portion of the United States, while 23 are in the West.

Some of the most notable local TV market ranking shifts include:

Houston moves into the top 10 TV markets
Tampa-St. Petersburg moves up to No. 12
Phoenix moves up to No. 14
Portland, Oregon moves up to No. 23
Charlotte moves up to No. 27
Columbus, Ohio moves up two spots to No. 32
West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce moves up to No. 38
Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York moves up to No. 41
Albuquerque-Santa Fe moves up to No. 46
Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem moves up to No. 47
Las Vegas moves up three spots to No. 48

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