Americans Get 189 Channels, Watch 17

More choices doesn't translate into more clicking, says Nielsen

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 8, 2014 12:59 PM CDT

(Newser) – Americans keep getting more and more channels to choose from, but they seem to have maxed out on watching "only" 17 of them, reports Nielsen. Its new survey finds that US households get an average of 189 channels, up from 129 in 2008. But most people watch no more than 17 of them, a figure that hasn't increased over the years. "This data is significant in that it substantiates the notion that more content does not necessarily equate to more channel consumption," concludes Nielsen.

It also ties in to the rising chorus calling for cable companies to offer a la carte programming, notes the Washington Post. The average cable subscription is $90 and expected to climb to $125 soon, but consumer advocates say that could drop if people could opt out of pricey channels such as ESPN. The industry, however, says bundling is the only way it can operate given ever-rising programming costs, and the LA Times notes that a la carte might not necessarily lower bills: "If a cable network were suddenly in 30% fewer homes, it would need to find a way to make up for that lost revenue and the easiest approach would be to just charge the people who still get the channel even more."

  (Shutterstock)
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