The 1960s was the second decade of television's dominance of home life. The average number of hours of viewing per home per day increased from just over five hours in 1960 to almost six hours in 1970, nearly 18 percent. With more channels, there were more programs to watch. Although virtually no homes were hooked to a cable television system in 1960, the increase to 8 percent in 1970 was the beginning of an accelerating trend. The 2,350 cable systems, up from 640 a decade earlier, principally served isolated areas; but when the Federal Communications Commission allowed cable channels to enter major markets, they began to increase program options for viewers in urban areas, too.
Home Life and Television
Television did not become, as some had expected, a theater in the home with featured attractions being the center of attention. Although a set might be on most of the time, it did not interfere with the activities of people in the room. One study showed that about one-fifth of the time it played to an empty room. For another fifth, those in the room did not look at it at all. This study reported that children "eat, drink, dress and undress, play [and] fight... in front of the set," and that is where adults "eat, drink, sleep, play, argue, fight, and occasionally make love." Almost always the viewing was discontinuous. Hours spent in front of television sets were greater among persons of lower income and lesser education than among the wealthier and better educated, for whom other activities were within reach and within budgets.1