Cord-cutters (And Nevers) Getting Common, GfK Says

Certainly this is because I’m so, so old, but I know only a handful of people who don’t get most of their content from a subscription to a cable or satellite provider.

I’ve just spent most of the month at my stepson’s home, where Apple TV is all there is because getting broadcast signals are basically impossible. But because I subscribe to cable, I was able to authenticate some channels I wouldn’t otherwise have received. So that experiment hardly counts.

A new report from Gfk says, shockingly, that now 25% of all U.S. households don’t subscribe to a pay-TV operator like DirecTV or Comcast, and for 17%, over-the-air is how they get whatever TV they see. 

That stat is not totally unbelievable but seems semi-unbelievable. It’s a lot higher than other estimates.

GfK says 6% are only using an Internet content provider, a stat that zooms up to 13% in households populated by 18 to 34 year olds;  22% use broadcast-only reception. 



This report says 28% say they've canceled pay services because they can see what they want online.

I wonder, during this rancorous week in which one Republican after another on TV restates how miserable the status quo has become, if any of that talk seeps into Americans’ other choices. It just might be that this is a great time to tempt consumers into changing habits. Quit cable! Kick out Heinz and pick Del Monte!

Probably not.

It’s not so interesting that younger viewers are leaning away from traditional TV,  mainly because it isn’t very new news.

But as David Tice, senior vice president of GfK’s media and entertainment practice told Variety, there appears to be a significant attitudinal shift with older people. Tice told Variety  an interesting development is a speed up in statistically affluent people over 35 who are quitting cable/satellite, just because they want to, and not because economic necessity.

“It’s people who can have pay-TV but choose not to. It’s more of a lifestyle choice than an economic one.”

GfK says that half of the people who have snipped the cord say they did it because it wasn’t valuable enough to keep. That’s not as many people whose top reason for quitting was an overall cost-cutting (that made up 72%) but it seems to say at least one of two things: Pay TV has now just priced itself too high and/or the whole-boat of TV fare is just no longer that interesting that paying to get it is defensible.

Older viewers aren’t in a full stampede away from pay TV. The report says 82% of the households with at least one person over the age of 50 still have a cable/satellite subscription. Mix that group into the whole population and you can see the difference; as noted, 75% of all us are still hooked.
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