“Second screen” devices appear to be the only screens in a small percentage of American households, judging from a new Nielsen report on the size of the U.S. television audience.
Nielsen expects the number of television households in the U.S. to stand at 114.7 million at the outset of 2012, representing a 1 percent decline from the beginning of 2011. Although Nielsen attributes the contraction to its “realignment of the TV universe” with data from the 2010 U.S. Census, the firm does note an actual “decline in TV penetration” — i.e., more than a mere data restatement.
While Nielsen does not comment further on the trend, the decline is likely attributable to new households that are foregoing televisions entirely in favor of computers, tablets, and other next-generation screens (via Media Life). The issue for content producers, of course, is whether the trend will gain traction among mainstream consumers.
Nielsen’s 2012 projection — representing 97 percent of all households in the country — is even lower than the TV audience size in 2009 and 2010, when the figure stood flat at 114.9 million.
Other market penetration projections by Nielsen (as of Jan. 1, 2012):
• 85 percent of TV households will own at least one DVD player;
• 67 percent will have a high-definition TV and HD tuner, and receive at least one HD network or station; and
• 44 percent will own at least one video game console.
The full Nielsen report is here (registration required).