On May 3rd of this year, Brian Stelter reported in The New York Times that the number of homes in the USA with television sets has dropped – for the first time in 20 years. Using figures supplied by the Nielsen Company, it was reported that 96.7 percent of American households now have TV sets, compared to 98.9 percent previously. Nielsen gives two reasons for this decline: some low-income households cannot afford the new digital TVs, and some young people “who have grown up with laptops in their hands instead of remote controls are opting not to buy TV sets when they graduate from college or enter the workforce.”
The latest Australian figures (from Screen Australia) are that “more than 99 percent of Australian metropolitan households had one or more television sets, 68 per cent had two or more, and 31 per cent had three or more.” But it will be interesting to see whether or not this phenomenon is replicated here. I suspect that eventually it will, although it will probably be the latter reason (the young) and almost certainly not the former – and may take a few years to manifest, as our broadband speeds (and costs) are not simply what people can use to replace TV with … yet. The Australian Government’s recent announcement (in the context of the Budget earlier this month) that it will provide digital set top boxes for the elderly to transfer over to digital TV will certainly ease the less technologically proficient – many of them not very well off – into the new digital TV age. This certainly does not happen in the USA. Click here for a recent (May 18th) Sydney Morning Herald article defending the Government’s decision.