TV Cord-Cutting: Consideration High, But Few Forgo Subscriptions in Favor of Online Video

September 23, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Mobile Phone | Pay-TV & Cord-Cutting | Tablet | Television | TV Audiences & Consumption | Video | Youth & Gen X

Altman-Cable-TV-Subscription-Trends-Sept2013The number of TV cord-cutters has been rising more quickly than expected of late, but represented only about 1% of pay-TV subscribers last year, per recent research. Now, new survey data from Altman Vilandrie & Company indicates that while 40% of subscribers aged under 35 have “seriously considered” dropping cable TV service, less than 5% of respondents overall watch online video regularly instead of subscribing to a service.

As prior research has found, cost was the main reason for non-subscribers to have canceled their service, rather than a feeling that online video would provide a complete substitute. For those sticking to their cable TV services, the main reasons are the desire to watch live news (75%), new TV shows (66%) and live sports (59%), indicating again that while cost drives cord-cutting, content dulls the knife.

Although the survey found few cord-cutters, it did see a greater inclination towards “cord-shaving,” or cutting back on the amount of money spent on pay-TV. 26% of respondents professed to have cut back in this way, more than double the proportion from 2010. This tends to be the direction the media industry sees pay-TV taking: a recent survey of executives found them feeling that that over-the-top (OTT) video services such as Netflix are more likely to lead to cord-shaving than cord-cutting behavior.

In all, 8 in 10 respondents to the Altman survey said they watch TV during normal broadcast time at least weekly, essentially unchanged from 81% in 2010. While traditional TV’s reach appears to have remained steady, other devices have become more popular for watching TV shows and movies. For example, 8 in 10 respondents under 35 claim to watch TV shows and movies online on a weekly basis. More than one-quarter of those under 45 watch on a tablet weekly, as do 1 in 5 35-44-year-olds on a smartphone.

Other Findings:

  • Just 1 in 3 respondents said their cable TV subscription included access to TV Everywhere, with that figure at 24% among viewers aged over 55.
  • Close to half of cable TV non-subscribers aged under 35 expect to subscribe to cable within 5 years.

About the Data: The data is based on an online survey of more than 2,500 US consumers fielded by Research Now in July and August.

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