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TV Ownership Goes Down For First Time In Decades

TV Ownership Goes Down For First Time In Decades

It’s only happened once before, but it’s happening again: fewer Americans will own TV sets in 2012 than they did in 2011. The only other time that TV ownership has gone down before was in 1992. Currently, there are 115.9 million American households with TV sets — by next year that is expected to drop to 114.7. That may not seem like a huge drop, but this is taking into account the fact that the American population is growing.

Much of the drop seems attributable to younger households — those headed by someone between the ages of 18 and 49 expect to stop owning a TV at three times the national average. This shouldn’t be that surprising. Young people have already taken the lead in dropping environmentally unfriendly technologies.

There are a lot of potential reasons why TV ownership is dropping: it could be because younger people are more conscious about their environmental impact; younger people are harder hit by the recession and cannot afford TVs; or traditional TVs are being displaced by computer streaming services like Hulu and Netflix.

Unfortunately, though, the report also highlights growing inequality of consumption. While many people are getting rid of TVs or simply not buying new ones, a lot of households that already own them are buying more. The average TV-owning household now has more than three sets in the house.

Indeed, 56% of those households with TVs own 3 or more, up from 55% last year and 41% just over a decade ago. This means that although a lot of households are reducing their carbon footprint (and dependence on TV), this may be offset by those who want several TVs in the home.

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Photo credit: jerine's Flickr stream.

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42 comments

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1:45PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

I think that the true problem is not the number of televisions in the home but how often you replace them. For example: when we moved into our new house two/three yeas ago, there were seven TVs. Seven! (and this is in a three bedroom house). We got rid of all but two, one in the master bedroom and one in the living room. Both are old (by the standards of our current consumerist culture); the one upstairs isn’t even flat and the one downstairs, while more like a flatscreen, is certainly not the 40-inch behemoths you see today. Sadly, to many people this would not be acceptable; the TVs would have been replaced as soon as the house was purchased and continually updated over the years as “better” models came out.

To my mind, it doesn’t matter how many TVs people have, as long as they wait 5, 8, or even- gasp!- 10 years before buying a new one. If we could all do that, it would drastically cut down on our waste.

1:44PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

I think that the true problem is not the number of televisions in the home but how often you replace them. For example: when we moved into our new house two/three yeas ago, there were seven TVs. Seven! (and this is in a three bedroom house). We got rid of all but two, one in the master bedroom and one in the living room. Both are old (by the standards of our current consumerist culture); the one upstairs isn’t even flat and the one downstairs, while more like a flatscreen, is certainly not the 40-inch behemoths you see today. Sadly, to many people this would not be acceptable; the TVs would have been replaced as soon as the house was purchased and continually updated over the years as “better” models came out.

To my mind, it doesn’t matter how many TVs people have, as long as they wait 5, 8, or even- gasp!- 10 years before buying a new one. If we could all do that, it would drastically cut down on our waste.

1:42PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

I think that the true problem is not the number of televisions in the home but how often you replace them. For example: when we moved into our new house two/three yeas ago, there were seven TVs. Seven! (and this is in a three bedroom house). We got rid of all but two, one in the master bedroom and one in the living room. Both are old (by the standards of our current consumerist culture); the one upstairs isn’t even flat and the one downstairs, while more like a flatscreen, is certainly not the 40-inch behemoths you see today. Sadly, to many people this would not be acceptable; the TVs would have been replaced as soon as the house was purchased and continually updated over the years as “better” models came out.

To my mind, it doesn’t matter how many TVs people have, as long as they wait 5, 8, or even- gasp!- 10 years before buying a new one. If we could all do that, it would drastically cut down on our waste.

1:39PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

I think that the true problem is not the number of televisions in the home but how often you replace them. For example: when we moved into our new house two/three yeas ago, there were seven TVs. Seven! (and this is in a three bedroom house). We got rid of all but two, one in the master bedroom and one in the living room. Both are old (by the standards of our current consumerist culture); the one upstairs isn’t even flat and the one downstairs, while more like a flatscreen, is certainly not the 40-inch behemoths you see today. Sadly, to many people this would not be acceptable; the TVs would have been replaced as soon as the house was purchased and continually updated over the years as “better” models came out.

To my mind, it doesn’t matter how many TVs people have, as long as they wait 5, 8, or even- gasp!- 10 years before buying a new one. If we could all do that, it would drastically cut down on our waste.

1:39PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

I think that the true problem is not the number of televisions in the home but how often you replace them. For example: when we moved into our new house two/three yeas ago, there were seven TVs. Seven! (and this is in a three bedroom house). We got rid of all but two, one in the master bedroom and one in the living room. Both are old (by the standards of our current consumerist culture); the one upstairs isn’t even flat and the one downstairs, while more like a flatscreen, is certainly not the 40-inch behemoths you see today. Sadly, to many people this would not be acceptable; the TVs would have been replaced as soon as the house was purchased and continually updated over the years as “better” models came out.

To my mind, it doesn’t matter how many TVs people have, as long as they wait 5, 8, or even- gasp!- 10 years before buying a new one. If we could all do that, it would drastically cut down on our waste.

1:37PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

I think that the true problem is not the number of televisions in the home but how often you replace them. For example: when we moved into our new house two/three yeas ago, there were seven TVs. Seven! (and this is in a three bedroom house). We got rid of all but two, one in the master bedroom and one in the living room. Both are old (by the standards of our current consumerist culture); the one upstairs isn’t even flat and the one downstairs, while more like a flatscreen, is certainly not the 40-inch behemoths you see today. Sadly, to many people this would not be acceptable; the TVs would have been replaced as soon as the house was purchased and continually updated over the years as “better” models came out.

To my mind, it doesn’t matter how many TVs people have, as long as they wait 5, 8, or even- gasp!- 10 years before buying a new one. If we could all do that, it would drastically cut down on our waste.

7:30AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

Thanks!

7:02AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

If I had something better to do in my leisure time, I'd get rid of TV. I pay for satellite, and except for PBS and premium channels, I have to watch commercials too!! And there are more and more commercial breaks than before!! Sure, I can get "free broadcast" but there is nothing on I care to watch, except local news. I've read back when cable and satellite was new, there were no commercials. Well, I didn't have those things back then. I got rid of the premium channels because they are mostly repeats anyways.

12:49AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:09AM PST on Dec 8, 2011

thanks

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