Pay-TV Penetration Remains Strong Among Netflix-Loving Parents

Harris-Pay-TV-Streaming-Service-Subscriptions-by-Age-Parental-Status-Dec2013Three-quarters of American adults claim to subscribe to a cable (52%) or satellite (24%) TV service, according to recent survey results from Harris Interactive. While pay-TV subscriptions have been contracting of late, most research pegs pay-TV penetration in the US at 80+% of households. Obviously there are significant differences in subscription rates among different age groups – but the Harris survey also finds some interesting results when looking at the pay-TV and Netflix subscription habits of parents with children under the age of 18. (It’s worth noting that Harris only asked about cable and satellite subscriptions and not IPTV, which has been gaining subscribers of late.)

The study indicates that parents over-index in subscriptions to Netflix streaming services, with 37% claiming to subscribe to the services, compared to 22% of non-parents and 25% of respondents overall. (Parents are also more likely than their counterparts to subscribe to Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus.) But while parents are significantly more likely than the average respondent to subscribe to these streaming services, their pay-TV subscriptions appear to be unaffected. That’s because 72% say they pay to a cable or satellite service, not far behind the 76% of non-parents.

It’s interesting to see how different those results are from the practices of Echo Boomers (18-36). This young group also is more likely than the average adult to subscribe to Netflix streaming services (41% vs. 24%), Amazon Prime (17% vs. 10%) and Hulu Plus (8% vs. 4%). But, only 6 in 10 claim to have a cable or satellite TV subscription, suggesting that streaming services are playing a cord-cutting role among this group.

Not surprisingly, the research shows that pay-TV penetration is higher among older age groups, while the opposite is true for streaming service subscriptions. It remains to be seen whether younger respondents without kids who don’t now have pay-TV would subscribe to a service once they have kids. Different living situations appear to have an effect on youth: recent research from The Diffusion Group (TDG) has found that while few “late Millennials” (aged 18-24) living at home report being highly inclined to subscribe to a pay-TV service once they strike out on their own, only 10.6% responding to a separate survey never signed up for a cable or satellite service once they moved out on their own for the first time.

[Editor’s note: A typo in this article’s chart has been amended since original publication.]

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 16 and 21, 2013 among 2,368 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.