Many Millennials Who Forgo Pay-TV Rely on OTA as Main Programming Source

November 25, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Pay-TV & Cord-Cutting | Television | Video | Youth & Gen X

Centris-OTA-Use-Non-Pay-TV-Households-Nov2013Centris Marketing Science has released some new video viewing data containing two interesting results. Firstly, Millennials (18-34) who don’t subscribe to pay-TV – many of whom may fall into the “cord-never” bucket – appear to be increasingly relying on over-the-air (OTA) options as their main source of TV programming. Secondly, the proportion of young Millennials (18-24) who reported subscribing to Netflix tumbled in Q3 relative to the year-earlier period.

Looking at the first point, the Centris data indicates that 64% of Millennials without pay-TV claimed to use OTA as their primary source of TV programming in Q3, a dramatic rise from just 44% a year earlier. The 18-24 group saw the biggest jump in OTA reliance, from 40% of respondents last year to 69% this year. The older Millennial group (25-34) also appears to be leaning more on OTA, up from 49% of respondents doing so last year to 61% this year. Given declining network ratings and a slow but gradual shift away from traditional TV on the part of youth, it’s surprising to see an added reliance on OTA rather than over-the-top (OTT) options among this group.

Still, Millennials continue to trail the general non-pay-TV population in terms of their reliance on OTA programming: the 64% using it as their primary source of programming is about 12% lower than the 73% of US households overall.

As to be expected, Millennials are more likely than the general household (72% vs. 54%) to use OTT video, and Centris notes that use of OTT was higher this year in Q3 among 25-34-year-olds than last year (74% vs. 67%). Higher-than-average use of OTT among Millennials trickles down to Netflix, which Millennials are 50% more likely to subscribe to than the typical US household (33% vs. 22%).

But, in Q3, 29% of 18-24-year-olds reported subscribing to Netflix, a significant decline from 39% a year earlier, either reflecting a drop in OTT use this year or a move to other OTT options.

Overall, the 33% of Millennials in Q3 saying they subscribed to Netflix was down slightly from 36% last year.

Reached for comment on the results, President of Centris Steve Ennen commented that “While this greater reliance on OTA for television viewing may appear counter-intuitive on the surface, further research shows that OTA-reliant Millennial households significantly over-index on OTT use, suggesting that the rise in OTA use reflects increasing use of OTT and OTA as complimentary sources of video entertainment rather than a shift to OTA instead of OTT.”

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