Research shows that 6% of households in the United States now watch television exclusively on a mobile screen, which is an increase of more than a million homes in a year, driven primarily by younger viewers. It suggests the need to redefine the basis of television audience measurement according to homes with access to television rather than just those that have television sets.

The renewed call comes from the Advertising Research Foundation and is based on its DASH TV Universe Study, which produces an annual report on how people use television in the United States. Conducted online, in person and by phone, it is based on a national sample of more than 10,000 adults.

“The trend toward TV access exclusively on mobile devices shows no signs of letting up, particularly because younger households drive the trend. Not surprisingly, younger households are behind many of the dynamics changing the shape of TV, as highlighted in the DASH 2023 report,” said Paul Donato, the chief research officer at the ARF.

The number of homes with broadband only access to television has grown two to three percentage points a year since the DASH research was launched in 2021. However, there was no growth between the Spring and Autumn waves of 2023, suggesting that it may have plateaued.

Online multichannel services like YouTube TV or Hulu+ Live are becoming more mainstream. Households headed by people aged over 55, which constitute 38% of all households in the United States, were more likely than their younger counterparts to take on such a service to watch traditional television channels.

The market also saw the addition of limited live channels to online video subscription services Paramount+ and Peacock, delivering network and local programming from CBS and NBC respectively.

Households without a television set grew from 7% in 2022 to 8% in 2023, an increase of more than a million homes, driven by younger households. Three-quarters of homes without a television set, or 6% of all households in the United States, now have access to linear television channels but watch exclusively on their devices.

The percentage of households with no television set now ranges from 17% for those aged 18-24, and 14% for those aged 25-34, to just 2% for those aged over 65.

The DASH survey gathers data from a national sample to report on individual ownership and usage of mobile devices, as well as television sets by brand and room, together with connection devices and modes of delivery. It collects measures of the viewing and co-viewing of respondents across dayparts, devices and services.