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Latest U.S. Cable Network Universes and Population Trends. Annual Nielsen Household/Persons. Update from Dr John Morse

My valued colleague Dr John Morse shared his latest Annual Nielsen Household/Persons Update for September 2020.

These widely used Nielsen universe numbers provide an important context for advertising targets, and thus for programming strategies.

Nielsen updates all its universe national base counts once per year that go into effect each September.

Total Universe

  • This year the total US Universe of TV homes increased from 120.6 to 121.0 million.
  • That’s a 400,000 (0.03%) increase in total US TV homes which lifts all cable UEs and related impression deliveries (everything else being equal).


  • Persons 2+ increased from 307.3 to 308.0 Million
  • Children Under 2-11 decreased from 47.2 to 46.8 Million.
  • Teens 12-17 were unchanged at 24.5 Million.
  • Persons 18-34 decreased from 70.1 to 69.9 Million.
  • Persons 18-49 decreased from 129.5 to 129.4 Million.
  • Persons 25-54 decreased from 121.2 to 120.9 Million.
  • Persons 35-64 decreased from 120.6 to 120.2 Million.
  • Persons 55+ increased from 93.4 to 94.8 Million.
  • White households decreased from 89.44 to 89.38 Million
  • Hispanic households increased from 16.9 to 17.2 Million
  • African-American households increased from 16.0 to 16.2 Million
  • Asian households increased from 6.4 to 6.6 Million


  • Broadcast-only homes are now 15% of all US TV homes (18.4 Million), a 5% increase past year.
  • This includes Broadband-only with Broadcast.
  • Homes that reported being “new car prospects” declined from 11,870,000 to 10,590,000 (-11%), reflecting current economic conditions.

There are now:

  • 6 Million Professionals/Owners/Managers (POM)
  • 5 Million with Household Income $100K+

Cord-cutting Continues

  • The average cable network lost 473,000 homes year-over-year (-2.9%), skewed more positive by 6 networks that added over 10 million homes.  See below.
  • The wired cable universe was down 1,287,000 homes (-2.2%).
  • Satellite subscription was down 2,554,000 (-8.4%).
  • These declines were partially off-set by additional virtual MVPD carriage of 3,528,000 homes for the average network
  • (vMPVD is defined as network programming delivered through the Internet including Sling, DirecTV Now, AT&T Watch, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Fubo TV, and Philo).
  • The average linear network measured nationally by Nielsen is carried in 58,907,000 homes.

Networks with widest distribution

  • Food Network has the largest HH distribution: 87,818,000.
  • Discovery is 2nd with 86,855,000 homes.
  • HGTV has the largest number of vMVPD homes: 8,221,000.

Networks added subscribers

Sept. ’20

HH ‘(000)


HALLMARK DRAMA43,18826,644161.0%
ESN LIFESTYLES33,11618,565127.6%
CNN EN ESPANOL22,53716,496273.1%
JUSTICE CENTRAL44,28916,15657.4%
FAMILY ENT TV53,09810,60325.0%
PURSUIT CHANNEL28,7823,32913.1%
FOX SPORTS 259,3522,2944.0%
TRAVEL CHANNEL82,7401,4691.8%
SHOWTIME PRIME28,0231,2824.8%
NATIONAL GEO WILD60,1371,2112.1%
OXYGEN MEDIA71,6591,1731.7%

Byron Media

Whether it’s audience measurement, distribution, ad sales, marketing/promotion, multi-platform, “big data” usage, or program content and scheduling, Byron Media makes the bottom-line difference for companies.

For further information or a copy of the full report, call John Morse 516-627-5634 or contact  No cost!