The number of television homes in the United States has risen by 1% over the last year. The percentage of homes receiving traditional television through broadcast, cable, satellite, telco or broadband networks is up 0.5% to 96.5%. The proportion of those subscribing may be down 2% but eight out of ten homes still pay for their television service.

The national television household universe estimates are the basis of Nielsen television rating and share information. They are derived from data provided by the Census Bureau and information collected during the recruitment of homes for the Nielsen People Meter panel.

Nielsen estimates that in the 2017-18 television season there will be 119.6 million television homes in the United States, compared to 118.4 million the previous year.

There will be an estimated 304.5 million people over two years old in television households, an increase of 0.9% over the previous year.

Nielsen television homes estimate for the United States, 2000-2018. Source: Nielsen.

The United States population is estimated at around 325.8 million, up from 308.7 million at the 2010 census. In 2015 there were an estimated 133.3 million housing units, compared to 130 million in 2010.

There was a slight fall following the 2010 census but the number of television homes has increased as the population continues to rise.

Nielsen currently defines a television household as a home with at least one operable television or monitor with the ability to deliver video via antennae, cable, satellite or broadband connection.

In its most recent Total Audience Report, Nielsen said the number of pay television homes fell to 97.812 million households in the first quarter of 2017, compared to 99.225 million the same time the previous year. The number of broadcast only homes rose from 13.30 million to 15.22 million, while the number of broadband only homes rose from 3.87 million to 5.37 million.

So, while the pay television universe contracted by 1.4%, the total number of television homes rose by just over 1%. That means the proportion of television homes in the United States with pay television has fallen by 2% to 81.8%, which is significant but not as dramatic as some might believe. It still accounts for 73.3%, or nearly three quarters of all homes in the United States.