Is she or isn’t she? The question used to be posed about a woman’s hair color.
And now, I ask the question of TV viewing: are we or aren’t we cutting the cord?
Nielsen just released its newest cross-platform report for the third quarter of 2011, which found the number of Internet-only homes jumped 23% year–over-year.
But when it comes to stats, you can’t just look at the hair color; you have to look at the roots (why yes, that’s how you overreach on a metaphor!). Here’s why — Nielsen found that there are 5.1 million broadcast only/broadband homes, meaning they have Internet connectivity but not cable TV services, compared to nearly 81 million homes with cable channels. The Internet-only homes are the smallest group, but they are growing the fastest of any group of TV viewers, by nearly 23%. Nielsen also found that new media viewing is way up since it started this three-screen report in 2008. Specifically, the number of users watching Web video is up nearly 22% and the time spent watching online video is up about 80% over that time.
It can be tempting to conclude more consumers are ditching their cable TV service for Web viewing. Not so fast. Nielsen points out that these broadband-only homes may be homes that never subscribed to cable or broadband before rather than homes that are cutting back. Bruce Leichtman of Leichtman Research Group said research indicates that overall TV viewing has grown in the last year. “Even among this group of light TV viewers, the Nielsen data shows that they watch 10X the TV to streaming – compared to 50X overall,” he said. Plus, any loss in cable subscribers has been offset by consumers shifting to telephone or satellite providers for their multichannel viewing.
Nielsen found the same. “The number of homes subscribing to wired cable has decreased 4.1 percent in the past year at the same time that telephone company-provided (telco) and satellite TV have seen increases of 21.1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively,” Nielsen said.
Boy, do we Americans watch a lot of TV.
Here’s the bottom line - we’re not there yet when it comes to cord-cutting. But keep an eye on how these broadband-only homes evolve.