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As cord-cutting continues, interest in highly valued, local and hyper-local content drives digital antenna adoption, new Horowitz study shows

Horowitz’s latest State of OTA 2022 report, which tracks the evolving market for over-the-air (OTA) antennas, wireless 5G home internet services, and other disruptive technologies, has just been released. The study looks at the role digital antennas play in keeping consumers connected to live, linear broadcast content as Americans continue to shed traditional cable or satellite (MVPD) services.

There are some notable changes in digital antenna penetration in 2022. This year, almost two in ten (18%) TV content viewers report having a digital antenna, consistent with 2021, though lower than penetration during COVID, during which antenna adoption and usage spiked. The study finds that digital antenna ownership has grown among younger viewers from 14% in 2021 to 23% in 2022. In fact, younger viewers now over-index on digital antenna usage compared to their older (50+ year-old) counterparts (23% and 15%, respectively). The study also finds that Latinx viewers over-index on digital antenna ownership compared to all other segments (25%, compared to 18% among white non-Latinx and Black viewers, and 19% among Asian TV content viewers).

The study finds that digital antennas have priority placement in the home, perhaps filling in the space once occupied by cable/satellite set-top boxes in homes that have shed traditional pay TV service. Two in three digital antenna owners (67%) have an antenna on the TV that is used the most in the home, a number that rises to almost 8 in 10 among digital antenna owners who do not have MVPD service (78%).

And, the study shows that those with antennas are using it. Self-reported time spent with content delivered through a digital antenna accounts for about 1 in every 4 viewing hours among antenna owners overall, growing to over 4 in 10 hours of viewing time spent among antenna owners without MVPD service (42%). Streaming accounts for a little over half of their viewing time spent, as illustrated in the chart below.

According to the digital antenna owners surveyed, being able to get live access to local broadcast channels is the main reason for getting an antenna, followed by being able to access local news. Notably, hyper-local content is also critical to antenna owners, with 58% saying they are interested in hyper-local news and information from their specific community. Indeed, interest in hyper-local content is on par with interest in national and regional news.

The study also points to some challenges and opportunities in the digital antenna/OTA space. The majority (62%) of owners are satisfied with their digital antennas, but reliability and the number of channels available are frustration points for some consumers. And, given the desire to remain connected to live, local and hyper-local content, there is a missed opportunity to better market the technology to non-adopters. Over half (54%) of non-antenna owners say they know only a little about digital antennas. When presented with a description of the technology and its benefits, almost in in every 10 non-antenna owners say they would be interested in getting a digital antenna. Overall, the study finds that 13% of TV content viewers are either planning to get a digital antenna or would be very likely to adopt an antenna in the near future based on the description provided in the survey.

“There is still a healthy market for the live, linear local and hyper-local broadcast news and information that digital antennas can deliver for free to consumers,” notes Adriana Waterston, Chief Revenue Officer and Insights & Strategy Lead for Horowitz Research. “But consumer education is critical to drive awareness, continued adoption, and viewership. There are many consumers who would benefit from having a digital antenna but don’t know it’s an option for them. It’s in the best interest of broadcasters to make a concerted effort to change that.”

The full State of OTA 2022 report provides analysis of TV content viewers 18+ who have at least one TV set in the home and are decision makers. The survey was published in November 2022 in English among 1,600 adults, with an oversample that resulted in 855 antenna owners. Data have been weighted to ensure results are representative of the overall TV universe. The report is available in total market, FOCUS Latinx, FOCUS Black, and FOCUS Asian editions. BCS Bureau

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