Video product demand shifts away from TVs in U.S. homes

by Steve Blum • ,

U.S. consumers are buying bigger TVs with better picture quality – 4K ultra high definition sets selling fast and could be in 20% of homes by 2019 – but their love affair with the small screen could be on the wane as they increasingly turn to even tinier displays. That’s the conclusion of a periodic survey by the federal energy department.

The study was conducted by the Energy Information Administration (EIE), an agency that, among other things, analyses adoption of consumer electronics products in order to track and forecast household energy use. Televisions and other video display products “account for about 6% of all electricity consumption in U.S. homes”, but the product mix is changing…

An average of 2.3 televisions were used in American homes in 2015, down from an average of 2.6 televisions per household in 2009. The number of homes with three or more televisions declined from the previous survey conducted in 2009, and a larger share of households reported not using a television at all…

Entertainment and information devices, in particular, vary by age: younger households tend to have a lower concentration of televisions per person and a higher concentration of portable devices such as laptops and smart phones.

The percentage of TV-free homes has doubled since 2009. In previous surveys going back to 1997, the fraction of U.S households with no television set at all held steady at around 1.3%. That figured jumped to 2.6% in 2015. The past six years have also seen a drop in the proportion of homes with three or more TV sets – it grew fairly consistently from 30% in 1997 to 44% in 2009, but then fell back to 39% in 2015.

Age is also a factor. The younger the household, the more likely it is to have fewer TVs and more smartphones and laptops, while older households have more televisions and desktop computers.