Cord-Cutting by the Numbers

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Cord-Cutting by the Numbers

Cord-cutting, the act of scrapping a cable or satellite subscription is a popular topic these days, and its growing interest is backed by hard numbers.

Posted by Grant Whipple on October 29, 2014 at 10:26am

Cord-cutting, the act of scrapping a cable or satellite subscription is a popular topic these days, and its growing interest is backed by hard numbers. A shift in TV viewing habits to Internet streaming services, new technology and TV Anywhere coupled with a much publicized anger against cable companies (you may recall that cringe-worthy call between a customer and a Comcast service representative a few months ago) all play a role in this nationwide trend.

Before we get into the numbers, letís take a look at the actual term ìcord cutter.î The leading authority on the English language, Oxford Dictionary, added the term to its online version this past summer. The addition of ìbinge-watchî and ìhate-watchî also describe how we now consume video content. Weíll just have to wait and see if these words remain in the vernacular long enough to be entered into Oxfordís print edition, but since our evolution of words tend to reflect pop culture this seems to be a solid indicator of the cord-cutting trend.

If Oxford isnít enough proof, then letís take a look at a recent Experian study on ditching cable. In 2010, the same company released a survey indicating that about 4.5 percent of all US households could be considered cord-cutters. That figure jumped to 6.5% last year. This may not seem like a mind-blowing number at first glance but it is a significant increase. Additionally, Experian found that if a household had a Netflix or Hulu account, 12.7% cut the cord in 2010, and 18.1% did the same in 2013.

Americans want to watch TV on their own time, and on their own terms, so the streaming and TV anywhere phenomenon are huge drivers of cord-cutting. Experian reports that consumers who stream shows on-demand to their TV set are three times more likely to drop cable or satellite, and six times as likely if streaming is their primary way of consuming media.

One of the biggest concerns that potential cord-cutters face is whether theyíll be able to watch their favorite programs. Once they take the plunge and realize the majority of their must-watch shows live outside of the cable box, the choice is not so difficult. It certainly doesnít hurt to have an extra 90 bucks in your wallet each month! nScreen Media Research found that 84 percent of US broadband consumers that have cut the cord are at least somewhat happy with their decision. 37 percent are so happy that they say theyíll never go back to paying for the service.

One of the reasons why so many folks are happy with their decision is because of the abundance of alternatives, many of which came out after the high court nixed Aereo TV. Just take a look at the new TiVo Roamio OTA, a device that captures and records over-the-air broadcast signals with an external HD antenna. Additionally, Roku recently partnered with two TV-manufacturers to create an affordable Smart TV that uses the Roku interface for browsing across multiple streaming services at once based on a search for an actor, show, director and more.

Those who may be concerned about adding too much extra technology can find most of their programs on one or two streaming services, and an HD antenna for local signals. In fact, a study by GfK Media and Entertainment found that roughly 19.3 percent of all US TV households (thatís about 22.4 million) now get their programming for free from antennas.

The future of how we watch television is evolving with the demands of the population. The influx of new technology, and the myriad of options available make cord-cutting viable, and not as scary as it may have been a few years back. The hard facts show that cord-cutting is a real phenomenon, and weíll just have to stay tuned to see what happens next.

Grant Whipple is responsible for sales and product development at the antenna maker @Winegard.

Read more: http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/cord-cutting-by-numbers#ixzz3HhIOnUL2


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