What’s old is new again. In-home antennas are the fastest-growing way Americans are accessing television today. Who wouldn’t want TV…for free? Meanwhile, this emerging audience represents an increasingly young, tech-savvy, and brand-conscious consumer – the kind that advertisers fawn over.

However, unlike set-top box or streaming viewers, there’s a severe lack of real-time data about these over-the-air viewers, their demographics, viewing behaviors, and brand preferences. That’s why CivicScience created the Over-the-Air Audience Tracker. With the CivicScience InsightStore™ database of over 100,000 over-the-air TV viewers, these consumers can be studied through the lens of over 500,000 attributes. Here’s a preview of the kind of insights available in the full report:

Three in ten Americans are over-the-air TV users.

According to CivicScience’s ongoing data collection, 30% of U.S. adults have a digital antenna – 17% use it often, and 13% don’t use it much. On top of that, 15% don’t own one, but are interested in getting one, hinting at the potential for over-the-air broadcasting. 

Americans aged 45-54 are the biggest over-the-air users — 23% percent of this age group uses it often. However, Millennials are equally likely to own an antenna in general (35%), but they don’t use it as often as adults aged 45-54. Gen Z, who are looking to cut back in multiple areas of their lives, are the most interested in converting (17%). On the other hand, adults 55+ are the least interested – additional data show that this age group is the least likely to have cut the cord on traditional cable TV.

Join the Conversation: Do you currently use a TV antenna?

Why should advertisers have a pulse on these consumers?

For one, their viewing habits are harder to track than those who just use cable and/or streaming services. CivicScience data show this is a group with diverse media behaviors. For instance, nearly two-thirds of OTA owners have cut the cord on cable and moved to streaming-only services*. Second, a growing percentage of Americans have already converted to using an antenna or planning to use it. Third, these consumers are far more likely to be influenced by TV advertising.

Here are just six key characteristics and attributes of OTA consumers that can help advertisers keep a pulse on them: 

  • They’re regular upscale diners. One third dine at upscale restaurants once a month, over four times the percentage of those who are uninterested in watching TV via antenna. 
  • Speaking of dining, they’re also most likely to splurge on an expensive meal. 
  • OTA users are more optimistic about their finances. Nearly 50% expect their income to be higher six months from now, compared to 33% of those uninterested in antennas.
  • They’re far more likely to travel next month. Almost two-thirds have travel plans for the next month (vs. 37% of those uninterested in antennas), and they are more likely to travel via plane (27%).
  • They have a pulse on beauty trends. They’re twice as likely to follow beauty trends (44% vs. 21% of non-users). 
  • OTA users pay more attention to newspaper ads. While they’re most likely to say they pay the most attention to TV ads, they’re more likely than average to be influenced by newspaper and billboard ads.  
  • The upcoming Olympics will be huge among antenna users. Nearly 60% of TV antenna users plan to watch the upcoming Paris Summer 2024 Olympics, which far outpaces the Gen Pop average.

Answer our Polls: Are you considering a television antenna to help cut entertainment costs from your budget?

Overall, the data show that media brands and advertisers should – and can – keep a pulse on TV antenna viewers. This audience is not only growing, but they exhibit high interest in things like watching the Olympics, following beauty trends, traveling, and upscale dining. If you want to see more insights like these, check out our monthly Over-The-Air Audience Tracker – and if you’re interested in learning about CivicScience’s high-performing advertising capabilities, let’s connect.

*n=2,123 responses from 2/27/2024-4/16/2024