Research from GfK Media might give heat to the argument that cord-cutting is rising with increased digital opportunities, although a GfK researcher disagrees. A GfK survey found notable growth in the number of homes with only over-the-air TV reception, increasing from 15% last year to 17.8%, but GfK’s David Tice suggested it could be more cyclical than secular. The array of online video options isn't the reason, he says.
GfK Media projects 20.7 million-plus homes (an estimated 53.8 million people) get broadcast-only service now.
The National Association of Broadcasters, the trade group for local stations, seized on the GfK Media data and distributed it in an email. Evidence that more people are relying on broadcast TV could give the NAB heft in Washington. But from another perspective, if the reason is cord-cutting, that’s a negative for NAB member stations. It reduces the amount of carriage fees they get from pay-TV operators.
Still, GfK Media’s Tice wrote in a blog that data indicates cord-cutting may be increasing, but that trend could be reversed with an economic uptick. The GfK survey, part of its Home Technology Monitor, showed 70%-plus of respondents who dropped pay-TV service said it was because of “cost-cutting.” Only about 20% said it was due to satisfactory online options.
Still, 24% of homes with a head of household between the ages of 18 and 34 had broadcast-only service, up from 20% in 2011. Younger people seem most likely to drop pay TV, and use free broadcast stations and online options.
Homes with a head of household between the ages of 35 to 49 had a much lesser 17% with broadcast-only service.
Beyond the economy, however, Tice suggested that homes may be increasingly satisfied with broadcast-only reception because of the rise in digital multicast channels, giving them more choice.
“Does online or streaming video play a role?” Tice wrote. “Certainly, there is no denying that it plays an important part. But is it the primary driver of people moving back to broadcast-only reception? Our data doesn’t strongly point to that conclusion.”
The GfK research indicates that 6.9 million TV homes, 6%, have engaged in cord-cutting in their current dwelling for some reason. That 6% percentage is up from 2011.
GfK found 28% of Asian homes rely on broadcast-reception only, up from 25% last year. The current figure in African-American homes is 23%, up from 17% in 2011. In Latino homes, the figure is at 26%, up from 23%.
The online survey was conducted in March and April with 3,207 homes participating.