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The TV-Less Dorm Room: Why Most Campuses are TV-Free

The typical college student doesn’t watch TV––at least, not in the traditional sense. 

Harrison Keely

Harrison Keely


In years past, a television set in a college dorm room was a standard amenity––and on some campuses, it was even considered a luxury. Today, things have changed, and dorm rooms are increasingly without TVs. Why? Because this generation has moved on.


From tablets to laptops, the modern college student is turning to other forms of tech to catch their favorite shows. Not only are these alternatives portable, they also make it easier for students to balance TV watching with studying and socializing at the same time. Additionally, platforms like Netflix and Hulu allow for flexibility in viewing times, which comes in handy for busy students with packed schedules.


In fact, studies from Forrester say that students in the United States between 18 and 22 years old spend roughly two hours a day streaming video, and about 12 percent use their phones to do it. Many use their parents’ or friends’ passwords for streaming services, and less than 20 percent of the TV they watch is live.


TV sets sold in the United States during the back-to-school season (from June to September) fell 9 percent in the last three years, coming in now at $4.1 billion. Large-screen TVs make up the bulk of those sales, according to research by NPD Group. The TVs that do show up in dorm rooms these days are perhaps intended more for playing video games or doing other live streaming.


The point, though, is that it’s not that college students are less interested in TV––quite the contrary, actually. They’re simply less interested in the traditional conduit of the TV set.


So, how are brick-and-mortar electronics retailers faring in the current landscape? Many are trying to bring in the younger demographic to purchase devices, even though typically it’s not a repeat business. Transactions that used to be high-frequency––such as DVDs or CDs––are fewer now, thanks to digital platforms and downloads. Additionally, many consumers would rather buy a device online after “testing it out” in the store first.


As retailers look ahead, innovation is the key––and staying ahead of the technology to anticipate consumer needs will win out.

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