Commentary

UPDATE: A Surprising Number of Cord-Nevers

Note: An earlier version of this piece has been updated and modified.

A piece of information from Forrester Research says that 24% of Americans don’t subscribe to a pay TV service, and what’s more, 18% are cord-nevers. They aren’t cutters. They haven’t exited. They never entered.

Most of those cord-nevers are now 32 years old or older, while 7% range from 18 to 31-- the next generation, it would seem. Forrester, in fact, says the average cord-never is just under 51 years old. Amazing, if true.

All this leads Forrester to conclude that by 2025, half of the adults 32 and over won’t be getting a cable-like pay service as we know it. Forrester suggests,  “CMOs must experiment on cord-nevers and cord-cutters now to learn how to serve them later.”

I’d say that if a viewer is 32 and older and not subscribing to a pay service like DirecTV or Comcast, they are no longer enticeable.

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It means that viewer has no compulsion to see live sports or news, or be able to stay up to date with programs, or to pay much attention the local news, at least in the perverted way most American stations present it. And it means a whole lot of people have done just fine without seeing TV commercials in the same way typical viewers do. 

The report says, those TV-averse digital viewers by 2025  "will not experience TV advertising messages in the same way as older viewers do either — not then, not ever.  We recommend that CMOs rethink their approach to this entire future generation by using today’s digital cord-nevers and cord cutters as test subjects for reaching valuable audiences without the use of today’s TV ad tools."

The younger cable nevers don't seem to be missing a beat.

"Rather than inherit TV viewing expectations from a prior era and then consciously reject them, as cord cutters have done, these cord-never viewers have simply bypassed prior assumptions, exhibiting nearly the exact set of behaviors that cord cutters have pieced together for themselves over the past decade of viewing."

But I find these stats cord-never stats amazing. Until recently, the television viewing world was divided into people who subscribed and people who didn’t. That latter group was small enough that analysts and researchers never seemed to agree how big (or small) it was. There were cord-cutters or people too poor, or too high-brow, to buy in.  

CBS Research guru David Poltrack long ago defined non-TV watchers “over-educated and under-employed.” A good example: A librarian.  

Perhaps stagnant income growth and recession created a brand new batch in the last decade of economic funk. 

Now, we’re being told that a lot of people were just never subscribing, and they’re being followed by a younger group who aren’t subscribing either. That cord-never info appears to be new information.

In February, a Moffett Nathanson research report, based on fresh census stats about occupied homes, estimated to be 3.8 million households that were cable-cutters or nevers. Last December, Nielsen said there 2.8 million broadband homes that didn’t have a pay service.

Comparing percentages with numbers of households is mixed up business, but it the Forrester numbers, based on a survey of 32,000 adults, indicates the pool of the TV-disaffected is far larger. 


pj@mediapost.com
6 comments about "UPDATE: A Surprising Number of Cord-Nevers".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 7, 2015 at 2:55 p.m.

    Does anyone take this kind of "finding" seriously. One thing---and only one thing-- is for certain---in ten years those respondents who remain alive will be ten years older. That's about it.

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, October 7, 2015 at 3:22 p.m.

    As one of the many you choose to label as "Ghosts".


  3. Leonard Zachary from T___n__ replied, October 7, 2015 at 3:29 p.m.

    Try being a cord cutter for a month- you may never go back to payTV. Don't be afraid. 

  4. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, October 7, 2015 at 6:04 p.m.

    I'll disagree with this:  "I’d say that if a viewer is 32 and older and not subscribing to a pay service like DirecTV or Comcast, they are no longer enticeable."

    But first, we should note there have always been a big pile of cord nevers. I have a brother who is 65 and never had cable. When I started in this biz just over 20 years ago cable penetration was perhaps 60% of households.

    Yet I first subscribed when I was 35. It was driven by life changes that Forrester seems immune to being able to consider.

    All-in-all... Seems to me that Forrester is doing a good job of creating business for themselves and a poor job of offering anything that adds to all of our understanding of what's going on.

  5. Jim Lillicotch from Lillicotch.com, October 8, 2015 at 9:05 a.m.

    It will be 8 years since I cut the cord in Feb and I have rarely had any problem watching sports or news or much of anything else I want to see. The only thing I really miss is rapid channel surfing, not nearly enough to make me pay for cable.

    With everyone wanting to produce, own and lock up their own content these days, I doubt I'll ever see a pay streaming service with everthing in one place like cable, but that hardly means I can't watch what I want.

  6. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, October 14, 2015 at 3:30 p.m.

    A more interesting question is if/when the cord-cutters and nevers will reach sufficient scale to affect industry assumptions about the "national" scope of Cable networks. Which is likely to be exacerbated by MVPD efforts to hang onto subscribers by offering skinny packages which will like affect some cable networks more than others.  Let's hope addressable TV hurries up already. 

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