96.7% of Homes Have TVs, 1st Drop in 20 Years
Rocky economy, online TV to blame: Nielsen
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2011 12:30 PM CDT
The number of families doing this is in decline.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The rocky economy and an upswing in Internet viewing contribute to a surprising new statistic: In America, 96.7% of households have a television set—down from 98.9% previously. It's the first such drop in two decades, the New York Times notes. The Nielsen Company, which collected the data, notes that some low-income households likely cannot afford new digital sets or antennas. In addition, some young people are opting not to purchase a TV when they move out on their own, instead watching shows and movies on the Internet.

For that reason, Nielsen may start including Internet viewers in its number of "television households," which the company uses to determine ratings, but says it will not redefine the term without input from its clients. A similar decline in TV-owning homes occurred after a recession in 1992, and Nielsen notes the trend was reversed when the economy recovered.