This study is provided by ICPSR. ICPSR provides leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for a diverse and expanding social science research community.

Introduction of Television to the United States Media Market, 1946-1960 (ICPSR 22720)

Principal Investigator(s):


This study catalogs the introduction of television to media markets in the United States. The file titled, "TV Station Diffusion by DMA, 1946-1960," lists the name and the start date of the first commercial television station in each Nielsen media market (DMA) in the United States. This dataset uses the 2002/2003 definitions of Nielsen media markets. The file titled, "TV Set Diffusion by United States County, 1950-1960," lists by county the number of households that own television sets for the years 1950 and 1953-1960. This study also includes a file titled, "Crosswalk -- County to DMA," that matches each county to its respective DMA(s).

Access Notes

  • These data are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Because you are not logged in, we cannot verify that you will be able to download these data.


DS1:  TV Station Diffusion by DMA, 1946-1960 - Download All Files (1 MB)
DS2:  TV Set Diffusion by United States County, 1950, 1953-1960 - Download All Files (9.9 MB)
DS3:  TV Crosswalk -- County to DMA - Download All Files (3.1 MB)

Study Description


Gentzkow, Matthew, and Jesse M. Shapiro. Introduction of Television to the United States Media Market, 1946-1960. ICPSR22720-v1. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago/Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributors], 2008-09-30. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR22720.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SES-0617658)
  • University of Chicago. Centel Foundation/Robert P. Reuss Faculty Research Fund
  • Social Science Research Council

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   broadcasting, historical data, household appliances, mass media, television

Smallest Geographic Unit:   county

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1946--1960

Date of Collection:  

  • 1950
  • 1953--1960
  • 1970
  • 1996-03
  • 2002-12
  • 2005-03

Unit of Observation:   DMA (i.e., Nielsen Media Market)

Universe:   The file "TV Station Diffusion," reports the entry date for the first commercial TV station in each United States Nielsen media market according to Nielsen's 2002/2003 definition. The file, "TV Set Ownership Diffusion" reports the number of TV-owning households in each United States county for the years 1950 and 1953-1960. The file, "United States County to DMA Crosswalk" reports each United States county and the DMA(s), by the 2002/2003 definition, in which it is located.

Data Collection Notes:

The file, "TV Station Diffusion by DMA, 1946-1960," compiles the entry data of the first commercial television station that appears in each DMA from the 1960, 1970, and 1954 TV Factbooks and from the 2001 Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook. In each source, the commercial television station with the earliest start date was identified. In the order that they appear above, the earliest commercial television station was identified from the first raw data source that reported a commercial television station for a specific DMA. The file "TV Set Diffusion by United States County, 1950 and 1953-1960," compiles the total number of households and the number of TV-owning households per county reported by the 1950 and 1960 censuses, 1954 TV Magazine, and the 1953 and 1955-1959 TV Factbooks. The FIPS codes from the 1990 Census GICS were also matched to this file by county and state name. The file "TV Crosswalk -- County to DMA," draws from the 1990 Census GICS and 2002/2003 County DMA, a file provided by Nielsen Media Research. The latter file ranks DMA by the number of households in each DMA that own a television.


Data Source:

TV Factbook, 1950, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1970

Historical, Demographic, Economic, and Social Data: The United States, 1790-2000 [ICPSR 2896]

1950 United States Census

1954 TV Magazine

1962 County Databook (United States Census)

2001 Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook

2002/2003 County DMA (Nielsen Media Research)

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Standardized missing values.


Original ICPSR Release:  

Related Publications ?



Metadata Exports

If you're looking for collection-level metadata rather than an individual metadata record, please visit our Metadata Records page.

Download Statistics

Found a problem? Use our Report Problem form to let us know.