Nielson Report...Zero and counting
Written by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil
(NNPA)—Are you a Zero-TV household? No, I don’t mean restricting the kids’ TV viewing to the weekends or until after they’ve completed homework. I mean—do you watch TV the traditional way or on any of the growing techy options available to us? So many of us are watching video content on our phones, computers, or tablets, that Nielsen designates this group of consumers: Zero-TV Households. This consumer segment is so significant; it will soon be included in our measured samples.
For those of us who are hard-core holdouts or just plain tech-challenged, don’t worry. Ninety-five percent of Americans still get entertainment and information the old-fashion way—via traditional TV. In fact, according to Nielsen’s latest Cross-Platform report, American TV viewing time was up in late 2012 over the same period the previous year, averaging more than 41 hours a week. That makes sense. There were a few notable, life-altering events towards the end of 2012 which kept our eyes on the continued coverage. Several states along the East Coast suffered the catastrophic Hurricane Sandy. The Newtown, Conn., tragedy touched all of our hearts, and the highly anticipated 2012 presidential election was also noteworthy. Since you and I have been together in this space for a while now, you know that the Black community tends to log more TV viewing hours a week than other demographic groups. The latest numbers show that African-Americans average 55 hours a week in front of the telly.
The new kids in town, the Zero-TV households, do own televisions—about 75 percent of those in this category have at least one in the house, but they prefer to watch, or consume content, on other devices. The data shows that 36 percent of viewers feel cost and 31 percent of viewers say a lack of interest are reasons for their preferred choice. Right now, about 5 percent or 5 million American households fall into this Zero-TV category. African-American consumers make up almost 10 percent of that number. Nielsen’s latest African-American consumer report looks at our alternate traditional TV viewing numbers more closely. We enjoy our multiple-screen options. Thirty-one percent of us watch video online. I have to admit it took me a minute to get there, but I’ve learned to appreciate the charms (and convenience) of other screens. (I know, I know. In some instances, size does make a difference and only a nice, large, flat screen will do). And, these are our favorite video sites:
•YouTube (48 percent)
•Other (31 percent)
•Netflix (10 percent)
•Hulu (8 percent))
•VEVO (3 percent)
•Yahoo! (1 percent)
Our technological world is spinning so rapidly, and the way we respond as consumers is having such a tremendous impact.
Another adjustment could ultimately be made in the way TV ratings are measured. As much as we love to watch TV, we also love to let our fingers do some of the talking, too. A new Nielsen/SocialGuide study shows that 32 million people in the U.S. tweeted about whatever they were watching in 2012. You know what I’m talking about. Some 68 percent of African-Americans own smartphones and we tweet on those phones 30 percent more than other groups. So, chances are, when you’re nearly hyper-ventilating over the antics of your favorite Real Housewife or blown away by a performance on your favorite talent competition show or the score during some championship sporting event, you’re talking about it with the rest of the world by tweeting. Fun, isn’t it? The data confirms what most of us already know—as consumers, we are master multi-taskers. At least several times a month, 80 percent of U.S. tablet and smartphone owners use those fancy gadgets to visit a social network while watching TV.
Research shows that the decision-makers in the TV industry would be smart to take notice of the numbers attached to all that tweeting that’s going on while live television is being watched, whether traditionally or through multi-screen viewing because tweeting affects the numbers. And, it’s interesting how the Twitter numbers correlate with ratings depends on the age group. For younger people, 18-34, an eight and a half percent increase in Twitter activity equals a percent ratings point increase. But, it takes a 14 percent increase in Twitter volume to see an extra ratings boost of a percent among 35-49-year-olds. (I can’t help but wonder where that leaves those of us who have outgrown that demo, but watch TV and tweet, too). Once again, our behavior, our choices as consumers have the power to influence industries. What you watch and how you watch it, matters. So, choose wisely.
(Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to www.nielsenwire.com)
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 April 2013 18:45
Advocates push to preserve foreclosure program
Written by Charlene Crowell
(NNPA)—A broad coalition of state and national organizations is pushing to preserve a key federal program that has helped more than 1.1 million troubled homeowners and reduced mortgage payments by a median savings of $546 each month. The Home Affordable Modification Program, created in response to the nation’s housing crisis, is set to close shop Dec. 31. Housing and consumer advocates are urging the U.S. Treasury Department to reconsider ending the program.
A March 26 letter to Jacob J. Lew, U.S. Treasury Secretary, was signed by 14 national organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Urban League and the Center for Responsible Lending. Another 22 state and local groups, including the California Reinvestment Coalition, Mississippi Center for Justice and New York’s Empire Justice Center, joined with their national colleagues to fight for more foreclosure assistance.
The letter states, “Research has shown that foreclosure and delinquency rates have disproportionately impacted African-American and Latino families, and median household wealth has dramatically declined. . . High foreclosure rates in communities of color have also impacted those homeowners neighboring foreclosed properties, and estimates show that these properties stand to lose $1 trillion in home equity as a result.”
Launched in 2009, HAMP initially sought to lower monthly mortgage payments to an affordable and sustainable level through a uniform loan modification process. HAMP funding was a part of the $29.9 billion authorized for the Making Home Affordable Program. Later in 2012, program options were expanded to focus on principal reduction modifications, expand relief for unemployed homeowners and ease other alternatives to foreclosures such as short sales.
To date, $12 billion has been obligated to pay incentives for HAMP homeowners already in the program. With the approaching expiration date, any unspent funds will ultimately be returned to Treasury’s general fund. Yet, many communities have yet to economically recovery.
For example, HAMP’s unemployment program offers a minimum of 12 months of temporary forbearance to allow these homeowners time to focus on securing new employment while still owning their homes. Depending upon homeowner circumstances, forbearance plans can be approved with some required payment or none at all. Thus far, more than 30,500 homeowners have accessed this program.
It is also relevant to note that African-American unemployment is higher than most. According to recent U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, Black unemployment at 14 percent is double that for White Americans.
The nation’s metro areas with the largest HAMP participation rates are Los Angeles-Long Beach, New-York-New Jersey, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Chicago-Northwest Indiana, and California’s Riverside-San Bernardino. California and Florida homeowners represented more than a third of all HAMP activity.
Additionally, the most recent HAMP program performance report shows that the program is working as it increasingly helps eligible borrowers by forgiving a portion of their mortgage debt. HAMP homeowners who received permanent mortgage modifications were granted a total of $9.2 billion in principal reductions. Additionally, 114,000 homeowners avoided foreclosures through short sales or deed-in-lieu.
Nationwide, the average non-HAMP mortgage modification reduced monthly payments by $389; while the average HAMP modification reduced the same monthly payments by $558. Similarly, non-HAMP servicers reduced interest rates in 73 percent of modifications made in the fourth quarter of 2012. Participating HAMP servicers reduced interest rates for 81 percent of borrows during this same period.
Of all HAMP trial modifications, 80 percent of the homeowners were at least 60 days delinquent at the trial start. The chief reason—for 68 percent of the troubled homeowners—was financial hardship because of reduced income or unemployment.
In 2012, CRL research found that among the 10.9 million homes that went into foreclosure between 2007 and 2011, more than half of the “spillover” cost to nearby homes have led to a $1 trillion loss in home equity for African-American and Latino families. High concentration of foreclosures in neighborhoods of color perpetuated disproportionate burdens in America’s continuing foreclosure crisis.
Coalition leaders agree: “Effective housing policies must recognize that neighborhoods with higher foreclosure rates and deeper foreclosure-related impacts will take more time to recover.”
(Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at: charlene.crowell@ responsiblelending.org)
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 April 2013 06:00
Written by Debbie Vargus
Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series
APRIL 12—Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship will host the Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series from 7:30-9 a.m. at Chatham University, James Laughlin Music Hall, Woodland Road, Pittsburgh. Susan Gregg Koger, of ModCloth, will speak on the topic “Dresses and Successes: Turning a Passion for Vintage into a Global Business.” She will discuss how she turned a hobby into an e-retailer known for its innovative social shopping experience. Registration is required and the cost is $25. For more information, visit www.chatham.edu/cwe.
Social Media to Grow Sales
APRIL 16—Sandler Training by Peak Performance Management Inc. will host “Prospecting 2.0: How to Use Social Media to Grow Sales” from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Foster Plaza, 790 Holiday Dr., Pittsburgh. John Rosso and Lindsey Demetris will teach attendees how to use social media to take control of their sales pipeline. Reservations are required. For more information, call Lindsey Demetris at 412-928-9933 ext. 203.
APRIL 17—Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center will host QuickBooks Advanced from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Duquesne University, Rockwell Hall, 6000 Forbes Ave., Uptown. This workshop will help individuals become more knowledgeable with the program, and help them to learn how to save time and through its use. This is for Windows users only. Registration is required. For more information, call 412-396-1633.
Career Development Series
Academic & Career Information Session
APRIL 18—The Community College of Allegheny County South Campus will host an Academic & Career Information Session from 6-7:30 p.m. at 1750 Clairton Rd., West Mifflin. The topic will be “Engineering, Technology & Mathematics: Discover Educational & Career Opportunities.” Registration is requested and this is free and open to the public. For more information, call 412-469-4301.
Job Fair and College Expo
APRIL 19—The Community College of Allegheny County Boyce Campus will host a Job Fair & College Expo from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the CCAC Boyce Campus, Student Union, 595 Beatty Rd., Monroeville. There will be a job fair and a professional dress fashion show at 11 a.m. by the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 724-325-6771.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 09:54
Written by Damon Carr
When it comes to your money, you should know where you are, where you’re going, and how you’ll get there. This all starts with the dreaded B-word—BUDGET. The very mention of the word budget sets off a feeling of confinement, restriction, limitation and loss of control. I admit there is a sense of confinement, restriction, and limitation associated with managing money—but it has nothing to do with a budget. What confines, restricts and limits us is the amount of money we make. Our income! So if you want to spend more, have more, and save more without sacrificing your lifestyle, you simply need to make more. A more formal definition of a budget would be a plan for spending, saving, and investing money. The importance of making a budget and sticking to it is to save for future goals while meeting present obligations.
Nobody wants to be tied down and confined—especially when it comes to our money. Most of us hold the position that it’s my money and I’m going to do as I please. You showed up to work, bust your butt and earned it. I’m with you—do as you please! Just do it on purpose with a plan that includes your needs, goals, desires, responsibilities, and commitments. Otherwise doing what pleases you today without planning can be the catalyst for what will destroy you tomorrow—financially speaking.
Now that we have a basic understanding of why a budget is important, how do we know that our budget is something that needs to be followed or something that needs to be changed. If you’re barely making it month to month or have “too much month left at the end of your money”, the telltale signs are evident—SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. But what is that something? How do you quickly identify the area in your budget that’s causing you problems? What if the telltale signs are not so apparent? You pay your bills on time each and every month. You have a few dollars left after the dust settles. Are you moving in the right direction? You manage to get the numbers to balance, but are you sacrificing your children’s college fund, your retirement plan, your entertainment and recreational activity or tithing? If you’re currently doing well financially, wouldn’t you like to do better? A healthy budget recognizes that there are a lot of things we need, want, and desire in life—all of which have a price tag attached to them. A healthy budget does not limit or restrict you to pursue the things you desire in life. It simply helps you to understand that money is finite. There’s only so much of it that will flow through our hands and we have to make the most of it.
I’ve compiled some budget percentage guidelines that will help guide you to ensure that as you spend money and obligate yourself to payments, you have considered that there are other things you want to do in life that requires money. These budget percentage guidelines will ensure that you’re not overspending or under funding a particular category.
•Tithing/Charitable Giving—10-15 percent
•Child Care/School 5-10 percent
These are guidelines and are not the universal standard. They are flexible and can be manipulated to line up with your priorities. The important thing to understand as you slice your money pie is that a bigger slice in one category will require a smaller slice in another category. For example, you can cheat up on the housing category allocating 40-percent of your income as long as you reduce your transportation category down to 5-percent.
Here’s how it works. You want to total the amount of money you bring home in your paycheck each month. We’re only concerned with our take home pay (net income) since what we take home in our paycheck is the only thing we can spend. From there you want to look at what you’re currently spending on a particular category. To calculate the percentage of a specific budget category, all you have to do is divide the amount budgeted for that category by your net income. For example, let’s assume that your net income is $2,000 per month. Each and every month you bring home about $2,000. Let’s further assume that your house payment is $900 per month, your car payment is $450 per month and your debts (personal loans and credit cards) are $300 per month. By dividing housing payment of $900 into your net income of $2,000 you calculate housing to equal 45 percent of your net income. By dividing car payment of $450 into your net income of $2,000, you calculate transportation to be 23 percent of your net income. By dividing your debt payment of $300 per month, you calculate debt to be 15 percent of your net income. By comparing these percentages to budget percentage guidelines, you see that you’re over spending in each in every category. By adding up the percentages in these categories you’ll see that housing, car and debt accounts for 83 percent of your net income and you still have to buy food and pay utilities among other things. This leaves very little if any for tithing, savings, entertainment and other things you aspire to do with money.
Leave it to me to use an example that paints a grim picture. My example is a close depiction of what’s taking place in most households. They camouflage their reality by using credit to finance the rest of their lifestyle. Like money, credit is finite; at some point you’ll max out your credit and be forced to accept the wisdom in the budget percentage guidelines. I’d rather heed the advice now and begin to sculpt my budget to align with my priorities, values and goals and get the biggest bang for my buck.
(Mortgage and Money Coach Damon Carr is the owner of ACE Financial. Damon can be reached at 412-856-1183.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 April 2013 06:00
Broadcasters worry about 'Zero TV' homes
Written by Associated Press
EXTREME CASE--James Weitze satisfies his video fix with an iPhone. He sleeps most of the time in his truck, and has no apartment. (AP Photo/James Weitze)
by Ryan Nakashima
AP Business Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some people have had it with TV. They've had enough of the 100-plus channel universe. They don't like timing their lives around network show schedules. They're tired of $100-plus monthly bills.
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 19:35
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the New Pittsburgh Courier Digital Daily newsletter!