Fewer Americans Report Cutting Back on Pay-TV, Print Subscriptions

July 7, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Magazines | Newspapers | Pay-TV & Cord-Cutting | Store Brands | Telecom | Youth & Gen X

Harris-Americans-Small-Ticket-Cutbacks-Jul2014Fewer Americans are reporting a cutback in small-ticket purchases compared to a year ago, finds Harris Interactive in its latest survey of spending and saving behavior. That extends to their media subscriptions: the June survey found 24% reporting having canceled one or more magazine subscriptions during the prior 6 months, down from 29% a year earlier. Similarly, fewer reported having canceled a newspaper subscription (13% vs. 18%).

For all the talk of pay-TV cord-cutting (which hasn’t seemed to materialize), there has been no appreciable increase in the percentage of adults reporting having cancelled or cut back cable TV service, with 22% claiming to have done so in the latest survey, down a couple of points from the year-earlier edition. Those are most likely service cutbacks rather than outright cancellations, in light of Q1 survey data from Digitalsmiths suggesting that only 7% of the 1 in 6 adults in the US and Canada who decreased their level of cable/satellite service during the prior year cut their service entirely.

According to the Harris study, Gen Xers (37-48) were the most likely to have cut back on their cable TV service, with 26% claiming to have done so. Baby Boomers (49-67), however, were the generation most likely to have reported canceling a magazine (30%) or newspaper (15%) subscription, a finding that may be related to print’s wider reach among this generation to begin with.

Meanwhile, the Harris survey also finds a decrease in the proportion of adults who reported purchasing more generic brands in order to save money. Only 56% of respondents professed to doing so during the prior 6 months, the lowest figure since at least June 2009, and down from 62% a year earlier. This behavior was most prevalent among Millennials (18-36), who tend to rely on word-of-mouth to make their private label purchase decisions.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 11 and 16, 2014 among 2,241 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.


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