A term coined by the TV ratings company Nielsen to describe families that have stopped paying for cable and satellite TV service, and don’t even use an antenna to get free signals over the air. These people watch shows and movies on the Internet, sometimes via cellphone connections. Zero TVers tend to be younger, single and without children. Many of them say their new lifestyle is less about saving money than choice; they don’t want someone else dictating the media they get every day.
Zero TV homes, now ranging in the millions, represent an important viewer market for TV ratings and broadcasters.
Rise in ‘Zero TV’ households has broadcasters nervous and as the number of “zero TV” homes in America is growing and it has cable and satellite providers shaking in their boots.
According to Nielsen Co., there are now 5 million such homes in the country, up from 2 million in 2007, the Associated Press said. Respondents said they like to watch programs on their own schedule and are unhappy with monthly cable bills that often rise above $100.
While show creators do receive some money from people who watch their shows on online streaming sites like Hulu or Netflix, broadcasters are mostly left out in the cold, AP said. Most alarming for broadcasters, many “zero TV” households say they’ve left the tube for good.
About three-quarters of those interviewed by Nielsen do have an actual set, but only 18 percent said they’d have any interest in hooking it up for a cable or other subscription, the AP said. The typical person in this category is young, single and without children.
Broadcasters will convene this week in Las Vegas to discuss how to win back the “Zero TV Crowd”: a rapidly growing demographic of people who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite TV services.
The Associated Press reports that this group largely opts for Internet streaming of TV shows and movies, either on their computers or through mobile devices such as cell phones or tablets. Subscriptions to online sites like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon are climbing, eliminating the need for traditional viewing habits that require the viewer to follow network schedules and sit through commercials. This is a big concern for broadcasters as their ad revenues fall at alarming rates. Here’s the AP:
“While show creators and networks make money from this group’s viewing habits through deals with online video providers and from advertising on their own websites and apps, broadcasters only get paid when they relay such programming in traditional ways. Unless broadcasters can adapt to modern platforms, their revenue from Zero TV viewers will be zero.”
The Nielsen Company gets the credit for the “Zero TV” label, after introducing it in its 2012 Cross-Platform Report. According to the study, the U.S. went from about 2 million Zero TV households in 2007 to more than 5 million now.The Hollywood Reporter wrote in February that Nielsen will begin tracking Internet usage along with traditional ratings measures in order to keep up with the trend. Now broadcasters need a way to follow suit in order to reach the “Zero TV” crowd online.