Half of Consumers See Themselves Subscribing to Cable TV in 10 Years

December 20, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

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

Roughly 7 in 10 US adults aged 18-59 see themselves subscribing to cable a year from now, but fast forward 5 years and that figure drops to 55%, per results from PwC’s Videoquake 4.0 study [pdf]. In a decade’s time, just 49% of respondents (all of whom have more than $40k in annual household income) see themselves as being cable subscribers, according to the report.

How well should those predictions be trusted? In 2013, a survey found 53% of respondents believing that TV viewers subscribing to the traditional model would be in the minority within 5 years’ time (2018). That seems unlikely, given that 82% of US TV homes currently subscribe to a pay-TV service, a figure that has only inched down in recent years.

For its part, the PwC survey finds that 76% of respondents are either traditional pay-TV subscribers (54%) or cord trimmers (23%), down slightly from 79% last year (61% and 18%, respectively). While respondents seem to hold a pessimistic view of traditional pay-TV’s future, most subscribers themselves aren’t ready to cut the cord: this year 84% of pay-TV subscribers said they expect to subscribe one year from now, up from 70% who said the same last year. It appears that cord-cutting isn’t accelerating at the pace that some might presume…

It’s also worth noting the PwC study results indicating that traditional pay-TV viewers spend more time consuming video content each week than other segments, such as cord-cutters and cord-nevers. That aligns with separate research likewise suggesting that pay-TV subscribers young and old watch more video content each week than those who don’t subscribe to a service (and presumably rely on other sources).

For those who aren’t pay-TV subscribers, the PwC report indicates that being able to customize a package to exactly the channels they want would be the most interesting to them in subscribing or re-subscribing to cable. There seems to be less interest in having everything included in one package or for commercial free cable TV.

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These conclusions again are supported by other research. A study from Digitalsmiths, for example, has found that almost 2 in 3 at-risk subscribers would consider keeping their provider if they were able to choose and pay for only the channels they typically watch.

Other methods for mitigating subscriber churn that have appeared in recent studies include enhanced content discoverability and OTT-like interfaces.

Enhanced content discoverability and personalized recommendations might help consumers who are overwhelmed by the amount of video content available today. In fact, more than two-thirds of respondents to the PwC survey agreed that the amount of TV content is overwhelming, ranging from a low of 67% of pay-TV subscribers to a high of 73% of cord-trimmers.

Finally, the PwC survey indicates that digital and mobile video viewership is on the rise, as one would expect. This is particularly true of younger age groups, with more than 8 in 10 18-34-year-olds now reporting accessing TV content from the internet.

For a breakdown of the broadcast, cable and online TV program audiences by age, household income and race/ethnicity, see MarketingCharts’ newly-released 3rd edition of our Media Audience Demographics report.

About the Data: PwC sampled more than 1,200 US consumers via a nationally representative online survey. The survey was conducted among adults 18-59, with households incomes above $40,000.


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