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Breaking down the bunny ear boom

Data: National sample from NPOWER Household, reproduced from a Nielsen chart; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of U.S. households receiving television signals through an over-the-air antenna has nearly doubled in the past eight years, according to a recent report from Nielsen. Nearly 14% of U.S. households use bunny ears to access broadcast TV.

Why it matters: More people are opting for antennas to access free broadcast channels as the cost of cable subscriptions continues to balloon.

Data from Nielsen suggests that growing population of antenna users is divided amongst older users, who use the signal mostly to watch broadcast television, and younger users, who use the antennas in conjunction with an internet-powered skinny bundle to access cable.

The big picture: At this point, the number of people using the antennas without a digital service is much bigger, but the group of users who are using it alongside a "skinny bundle" (a cheaper package of live cable channels), is growing. That group is much more relevant to advertisers because they tend to be younger and have higher household incomes.

  • "It's a great consumer to find," says Justin LaPorte, VP of local audience insights at Nielsen. He presented these insights last week at the National Association of Television Program Executives annual meeting in Miami.
  • "Their profile is really sexy to advertisers. Not only are they watching more traditional TV and spend more TV time, they're higher income, they're families, and are within that core 25–54 year-old audience that advertisers having a hard time finding," LaPorte said.

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