An increasing percentage of Americans are cutting the cord and turning to free over-the-air (OTA) digital television, according to Nielsen’s latest Local Watch Report.

The study also found that while many households are putting digital antennas on their homes to receive free TV, they are pairing that service with one or more subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.

As of May 2018, some 16 million U.S. TV households are getting their TV over the air with antennas, while nearly 90 million households still subscribe to pay TV, according to Leichtman Research Group, making the lowest level of pay-TV subscribers since 2007.

According to Nielsen, nearly 60 percent of OTA homes access SVOD services while 41 percent do not, meaning these homes are only watching what their local TV stations provide both on their main and their ancillary channels. This includes the major broadcast networks, such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, as well as diginets, such as Antenna TV, Cozi TV, MeTV and more, that air on stations’ digital subchannels.

Another segment of consumers supplement their OTA viewing with so-called skinny bundles from virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) such as Sling TV or YouTube TV. This growing group makes up 8 percent of over-the-air homes, equaling about 1.3 million U.S. households.

Looking more closely at local markets, nearly one in five households in the southwest get their TV over the air. This makes sense, says Nielsen, because U.S. Hispanics are 48 percent more likely to receive their TV over the air than the average U.S. home.

On the flip side, only 7 percent of households in the northeast access their TV over the air, and that region is also growing the most slowly year over year as far as adopting OTA TV.

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