Pay TV Costs Too Much, Say Many Subscribers

July 1, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Customer Service & Experience | Sports | Television | Youth & Gen X

CouponCabin-Cord-Cutting-Motivations-July2013Despite 45% of American adults saying they believe cable TV is a waste of money, 81% report being subscribed to cable or satellite TV services, finds a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of That result could be interpreted a couple of ways: either that consumers simply accept that a subscription costs more than they think it should; or that they will over time drift to cheaper alternatives. In fact, when asked the situations that would motivate them to cut the proverbial cord, the top responses both were cost-related.

That is, 56% of cable subscribers said they would be motivated to cut the cord if there were other, less costly alternatives, and 55% if they couldn’t afford to watch cable anymore. Other situations that could spur cord-cutting include a lack in frequency of TV viewing (which doesn’t appear to be an overriding trend), alternative ways to watch live broadcasts (17%) and watching only a few channels (17%).

The study appears not to have explicitly singled out online viewing as an alternative option (and it’s worth noting that the survey was conducted online), but other research suggests that cost is in any case more of a factor than online program availability when it comes to cord-cutting intent. Indeed, a recent study from pivot found that Millennials who are considering cutting the cord are far more motivated by cost concerns than the allure of online options, while those without a subscription lack the will to get one due to a belief that the value simply isn’t there.

Other Findings:

  • 11% of the survey respondents said they had previously subscribed to satellite or cable TV but no longer do so. Another 8% said they had never subscribed to any such services (15% among 18-34-year-olds; 5% among those aged 35 and up). Estimates of cord-cutting and broadcast-only households vary significantly, so those numbers should be treated with an element of caution.
  • The majority of cable or satellite subscribers are paying up to $100 for their service (69%), while 5% spend $200 or more.
  • 43% of adults said they wouldn’t cancel their cable TV service because they wouldn’t be able to watch live sports programming. 14% would cut the cord if they could watch live sports broadcasts through alternative means.
  • Close to 1 in 3 subscribers say they’ve switched cable providers on account of poor service. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, despite slight improvement, customer satisfaction with pay-TV providers remains low.

About the Data: The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Coupon Cabin from June 7th ”“ 11th, 2013, among 2,046 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


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