Commentary

The New Breed Of Cord-Cutter

Nobody but me would be interested in My Fabulous Career writing cord cutting stories. I think my first one occurred in 2009 and basically said that “cord-cutting” was a word describing something that hadn’t happened yet.  

That’s changed over the years as the options for cable or satellite disconnectors have increased.

A new report from Forrester Research says the number of cord-cutters have doubled in the last three years, from 3% of the population surveyed, to 6%.

The number of likely cord-cutters has gone up from 9% in 2013 to to 16% in 2016.

That’s always a fun figure when included in studies like this. I suspect a lot of people also told pollsters they were considering moving to Canada if their man/woman didn’t win. I know one person who has moved, but to New Zealand.

But unlike even the very recent past, those likely cord-cutters just might do it now. There are more and more alternatives to cable or satellite TV and at the same time, younger viewers moving into the marketplace may reject cable at the very beginning of their TV service experience and have a good alternative.

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“Our data shows that those who have already cut the cord are largely driven by price and value, while those considering it are evaluating all the ways they can get access to content and which provider will offer them the best experience,” Forrester’s report says.

So in other words, once cord cutters did it recognizing they’d be missing something. Now, they can actually shop for something close to what they want.

Of those who have chave done the deed, surprising to me, 48% were married couples but only 28% were “older” millennials, Forrester says.  

But going forward, 61% of the new cord cutters will be married, and 56% will have children under 18 in their house, up from 33% now. That probably explains the increase in children’s programming being offered by top streamers. And 54% of the cutters will have household incomes over $75,000 compared to only 37% who are that well-off now. In the future, 61% of the cord-cutters will be what Forrester calls "progressive pioneers" who are generally tech savvy and are easily traveling in the new media landscape; just 22% of the cutters are in that group now. Forrester says altogether, one out of five of us fit the bill. 

Currently, 35% of the likely cord cutters are held back by concerns that can be summed up as “habit.” They’ve always had cable or they can’t imagine living without it, or it’s part of a bundle that makes it seem economical. But 51% are still hanging in with cable or satellite because of the content it provides. (Significantly, 11% say it’s the local channels).

So as OTT provides more of what cable gives them, it’s logical they’ll switch.

But for current cord cutters and prospective ones, the biggest reason to cut the cord is cost--42% of both groups cite that “feature” of cord-cutting. The cable business, already shoots itself in the foot every time it raises rates; pretty soon it’s going to have a permanent limp.

Of the major services, cord-cutters like Netflix best by various measures, Hulu next and then HBO Now. Amazon Prime is fourth. CBS All Access and NBC’s Seeso are less important and upwards of 20% consumers polled found those two network-derived channels to be too expensive, a higher number in that category than the others.


pj@mediapost.com

4 comments about "The New Breed Of Cord-Cutter".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct, January 31, 2017 at 2:43 p.m.

    Interesting list of statistics, PJ. But, it's from Forrester - the paid cheerleaders for tech. So what's really going on here? Don't know.

    My own sense is that all of these breathlessly written research briefs from folks like Forrester don't really understand the past. That there have always been people with no cord. That eventually it became harder to live without cable so many went to cable reluctantly and always grumpy at the cots - never valuing the range of programming it offered.

    From looking at Forresters stats, it looks like these grumpy late adopters are one group they'll call "cord cutters" - but like my brother some number are "cord nevers" even though they're 65. Or "cord reluctants". The other group are younger - those who simply don't have the cord yet - making something out of what they can - which has gotten richer.

    Most critically:  I'll suggest that the loss of neither audience affects advertising effectiveness on corded TV. These are fringe groups that weren't economically significant in the advertising equation. At least, this is what our on-air results are showing - that our most recent campaigns have as much impact in the retail store to campaigns from 5 and 10 years ago.

  2. pj bednarski from MediaPost.com replied, January 31, 2017 at 2:53 p.m.

    Well, I asked Forrester for data on cord nevers but then, for space, clarity and time (mine), I didn't delve into it.
    But one takeaway from an October 2015 report from Forrester said, "Cord-nevers come in two flavors, and the youngest pose the most threat: Total cord-nevers are 18% of the population. The youngest among these, those under the age of 32, already represent a larger segment of the population than the entire set of cord cutters" (as of 2015). 
    Just FYI. 
    PJ

  3. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct, January 31, 2017 at 4:51 p.m.

    Thanks... Their wording is kind of funny. "Already represent a larget segment..."?

    Do they have any history in the report? I mean... Being a cord never has always been status quo for college graduates. Then, as their life progresses and finances allow, they may add the cord. 

    So that phrase seems like it should be turned on its head. Something like "While we are seeing cord cutters, the numbers are still well below the historical group who simply never signed up for cable. So the cord cutters are not a threatening or shocking levels."

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 31, 2017 at 4:58 p.m.

    As Doug points out, the cord cutters and cord nevers are mainly, though not exclusively, light TV viewers and, in many cases, people who are not particularly receptive to TV commercials to the point where, if they were watching, they would go out of their way to avoid them. Also, we should bear in mind that quite a few of the younger set who are "cutting the cord" are not only light viewers who are very infrequently exposed to a typical brand's TV campaign, but they are often in a bind financially and can't afford cable. Are they vital to a national marketer's success? Not necessarily. Will they buy a brand even if they aren't exposed to more than a handful of its TV commercials? Why not? After all. they don't watch the rival brands' ads very often, either?

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