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Americans Say Goodbye to VCRs, Hello to Streaming

Not so long ago, nearly about 90% American household had a VCR. Now hardly any do, according to Nielsen, but thanks to streaming and the growth of connected devices there’s tons of ways for viewers to consume content.

Nielsen says that now less than half a percentage of U.S. homes have a VCR. There was no data on how many of those still work and are flashing 12:00.

Those video tape machines have been replaced by first by personal computers, DVD players and game consoles that can play video and now by other portable connected devices.

Within the last decade, devices that have gained wide acceptance include smartphones (89%), tablets (63%) and subscription video on-demand) 62% and internet-connected devices (36%) and smart TVs (35%) are growing at a fast clip.

These devices have come into homes at the same time consumers are cutting the cord, with a growing number of households getting TV content either over the air or via broadband. Over-the-air homes are up a third over the past four years to 13.8% and broadband only homes have tripled.

Younger viewers especially are eschewing traditional pay TV, with 26% of generation Z getting their TV from broadband, over-the-air of via a virtual multichannel video programming distributor. For millennials the percentage is 32%.

Since December 2016, at least one-quarter of Gen Z and Millennial consumers have had access to either one or two video streaming devices, while access to all three device types increased to 12% for both groups (from 8% for Gen Z and 7% for Millennials) during the same period, Nielsen said. Access to these devices is also high among Gen X, with 35% having access to one device, 31% for two devices and 11% for all three device types.

What does it all mean?

“The advances in technology have changed how different generations access video content and the devices they use to view. While younger viewers love streaming and own multiple devices, older generations are beginning to embrace these technology changes as well,” said Peter Katsingris, senior VP, Audience Insights at Nielsen. “Whether through an internet connection, a virtual satellite or a cable provider, consumers are evolving how they watch content, but one thing is clear: consumers continue to be open to a multitude of options to view and will take full advantage of the amazing amount of quality content and multiple ways to access it in order to keep leaning back.”