May 3, 2018

Declining share of Americans would find it very hard to give up TV

(Maskot)
(Maskot)

An estimated 96.5% of U.S. households have a television. Yet only about a third of Americans say it would be “very hard” to give up their TV – substantially lower than the share of U.S. adults who say the same thing about their cellphone or the internet, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January.

Today, just 31% of Americans say it would be very hard to give up their TV, down 13 percentage points from a 2006 survey by the Center. In total, just over half of U.S. adults (55%) say their TV would be at least somewhat hard to give up.

In contrast, roughly half (52%) of cellphone owners say it would be very hard to give up their cellphone or smartphone, and a similar share of internet users (50%) say it would be very hard to give up the internet. Each represents a notable increase compared with 2006. In total, 74% of cellphone owners say it would be at least somewhat hard to give up their mobile device, and 73% of online adults say the same about the internet in general.

Although a growing share of Americans use various social media platforms, just 14% of these users say it would be very hard to give up social media entirely. That figure is largely unchanged from a survey conducted in 2014. At the same time, the share of social media users who say these platforms would be at least somewhat hard to give up has increased by 12 percentage points over that time (from 28% in 2014 to 40% today).

Older and younger Americans differ substantially in their responses to these questions – especially when it comes to TV. Around half (48%) of those ages 65 and older say it would be very hard to give up their TV, three times the share of young adults (those ages 18 to 29) who say the same (16%). Previous Pew Research Center surveys have found that young adults are much more likely to say that the primary way they watch TV is through a streaming online service, rather than a traditional cable or satellite subscription.

Conversely, young adults who use various other technologies are more likely than seniors to say it would be very hard to give up their cellphones (52% vs. 42%), social media (18% vs. 10%) or the internet in general (56% vs. 38%).

Among Americans overall, sizable majorities now own a cellphone or use the internet, and roughly seven-in-ten use social media, according to surveys conducted by the Center.

Topics: Technology Adoption, Generations and Age

  1. is a research analyst focusing on internet and technology at Pew Research Center.