Cord-Cutters Defiant; Online Content Not Their Prime Motivator

June 29, 2012

techbargains-cord-cutters-by-age-june2012.pngOne-third of cord-cutters say they would not re-install services even if the cost of cable was slashed, according to June 2012 survey results from Of note, despite indications that cord-cutters are going online for their content, recent research from GfK Media reveals that among those who have cancelled their pay TV service, online options were cited as the reason by less than 1 in 5. Instead, more than 7 in 10 said that cost was their prime motivator for cord-cutting. This aligns with the survey results, which found that 83% cut the cord due to costs, with only 17% saying their decision was based on cable and satellite not offering the best quality and variety of content. It is interesting to note that despite cost being the prime reason for canceling service, a significant proportion of cord-cutters (up to 42% of those aged 51 and over) would not re-install services regardless of price.

Estimates of Cord-Cutting Numbers Vary

The survey results show a higher proportion of cord-cutters (up to 35% among those 30 and younger) than has been estimated previously. For example, an April 2012 report from Convergence Consulting suggested that 2.6% of US TV subscribers, or 2.65 million subscribers, cut the cord between 2008 and 2011 to rely solely on online, Netflix, and other sources. And while the GfK study indicates that the percentage of TV homes reporting broadcast-only reception is on the rise, only one-third of those 17.8% of TV homes actually cut the cord.

Estimates regarding future cord-cutting also vary. While the survey suggests that 17% of respondents plan to cut the cord next year (with 83% citing cost as the reason), the Convergence Consulting report forecasts only a 1% point hike in cord-cutting households this year, while the Deloitte study from January (see link above) found that 11% were considering cutting the cord to focus on watching their favorite content online.

The disparity in figures may be related to the way in which the research was conducted, which might have resulted in different respondent profiles. Also, whereas the Deloitte survey focuses on pay TV subscribers who have cut the cord and migrated online, did not specify that reason in their survey.

Alternative Devices Do Play A Role

Although GfK analysis of its study concludes that online or streaming video is not necessarily a primary driver of consumers moving to broadcast-only reception, it does admit that it has an important role to play. Indeed, almost three-quarters of the survey respondents report streaming video on TV, with 57% using a gaming console and 43% using streaming media players. 47% of mobile phone owners, 72% of tablet owners, and 77% of laptop owners stream on their devices.

Online video viewing is clearly on the rise: according to recent research released by NPD DisplaySearch, more than 70% of consumers report viewing video content on devices other than TV sets, with laptops, desktops, and mobile phones the most prevalent devices used. Though tablets are the least-used alternative devices, their use for viewing TV/video content has more than doubled year-over-year in the 14 regional markets surveyed, primarily due to increased adoption.

Other Findings:

  • According to the survey, respondents without children are more likely than those with children to have cut the cord (31% vs. 26%).
  • Respondents who are single are more likely than those who are married to have cut the cord (31% vs. 27%), and men are slightly more likely than women to have done so (29% vs. 26%).
  • Among those who stream video, a plurality (43%) watch the most on their TV. Laptops (24%), desktops (20%), and tablets (10%) outpaced mobile phones (3%) in popularity.

About the Data: The survey was conducted on the site and received 1,640 respondents. The GfK “Home Technology Monitor” study uses GfK Media’s syndicated research service that has measured media technology in the home for 32 years. The NPD DisplaySearch “Global TV Replacement Study” is based on nationally representative samples of more than 14,000 TV owners.

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