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Nielsen: 'Zero TV' Homes Skew Younger, Single

About 44% of American consumers who don’t have pay TV or over-the-air television are under 35, and 81% of the estimated 5 million “zero TV” households in the U.S. have no children, according to Nielsen.

According to the research firm’s “Fourth-Quarter 2012 Cross-Platform Report,” in the U.S. there were 5.01 million zero TV households in 2013. That’s less than 5% of American households, but more than double from 2.01 million in 2007.

Of consumers who don’t watch traditional TV, about 75% have a TV and 67% consume video from Internet sources, according to Nielsen. Roughly 48% of them watch TV content through subscription services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus, the research firm estimates.

The main reasons “zero TV” consumers cite for not having pay TV or receiving broadcast TV are cost (36%) and lack of interest (31%). Only 18% of this segment is considering subscribing to TV services, according to Nielsen.

Last month, Nielsen announced that it will expand its definition of a TV household for ratings purposes to include homes with broadband-connected televisions starting in the fall of 2013. The move is largely symbolic, as industry observers do not expect it to have a real effect initially on total TV ratings.

“Zero TV” consumers are more likely to live alone (41.2% do, compared with 26.2% of traditional TV homes) and only 20.1% have children 17 or younger compared with 33.3% of TV households, according to the Nielsen report.

About 82% of traditional TV consumers are 35 or older, versus 55.6% of zero TV homes, Nielsen found.

Meanwhile, traditional TV homes in the fourth quarter of 2013 watched more live TV, time-shifted TV, and Internet and mobile video than in the year-earlier period.

Live TV viewing climbed more than three hours per month in Q4, to an average of 156 hours and 24 minutes, according to Nielsen. Watching view on the Internet among TV homes increased by more than two hours monthly, to 7 hours and 43 minutes in the fourth quarter.

The average American spends more than 41 hours each week engaging with content across all screens. They spend most of that time, about 34 hours, watching live TV. In addition, consumers spent another 2 hours and 45 minutes watching time-shifted content.

Viewing behavior varies by ethnicity, however, according to Nielsen: The average African-American household spent close to 55 hours per week watching traditional live TV, while Hispanics logged just over 35 hours and Asian-Americans watched less than average (more than 27 hours weekly).