Characterizing it as a “development to watch,” Nielsen issued a new report to clients Wednesday showing that the number of U.S. households that bypass cable or satellite TV and subscribe only to broadband Internet access has grown dramatically in the past year, and not surprisingly, they spend dramatically more time watching TV over the Internet.
The Nielsen report said it is too soon to determine whether these households are so-called “cord-swappers” -– swapping the cable/satellite TV cord for the broadband Internet cord -– but they are growing faster than any other segment of the “cross-platform” television marketplace.
While the percentage of Internet-only TV homes is still relatively small -– less than 5% of all TV households -– they grew 22.8% over the past year, according to the report, which reflects data for the third quarter of 2011 vs. the third quarter of 2010.
Not surprisingly, these households are streaming more than twice as much TV online as the general population: an average of 11.2 minutes daily vs. 5.0 minutes for all TV households. While these households are relatively low users of TV -– at about half as much as the time spent watching TV by the general population –- they currently are watching more than 9% of all their TV minutes online. According to Nielsen’s data, the average TV household currently is watching about 1.9% of their total TV minutes online.
“The increase in broadcast-only/broadband homes is the most significant of any category, though it is not necessarily an indication of downgrading services,” reads the Nielsen report, which will be released to the media today. “Rather, this could reflect broadcast-only homes upgrading to broadband as their needs change. Further underscoring the importance placed on broadband Internet, the number of homes subscribing to cable-plus and no broadband decreased 17.1 percent since last year.”