Advanced Television

Multichannel loss to cord cutters just 0.1%

December 6, 2010

The amount of ‘cord-cutters’ – multichannel homes with a high-speed Internet connection that drop their cable/telco/satellite subscriptions, but retain their broadband connection to watch television – netted out to only 0.11 per cent of the television population over the past three months, according to an extensive ESPN analysis of Nielsen’s national people meter sample. ESPN says the study provides a methodology for measuring and tracking cord cutting in the future, while debunking several stereotypes about the demographics of cord cutters.

The study found that just 0.28 per cent of homes in the Nielsen sample dropped multichannel service but kept their broadband Internet connections.  This migration was offset by a group of broadcast-only households that became subscribers to multichannel TV and broadband over the same period.  These ‘un-cutters’ represented 0.17 per cent of homes in the Nielsen sample, so the net loss between the groups was just 0.11 per cent of all households. Additionally, people who were heavy or medium sports viewers showed zero cord cutting.  Heavy and medium sports viewers account for 83 per cent of sports viewing and 90 per cent of viewing to ESPN.

The study also showed that the number of multichannel homes adding a broadband connection was nearly five times as large as the ‘cord cutter’ group.  Nielsen has reviewed and verified the findings of the analysis.

“This project adds critical intelligence to our understanding of the multichannel marketplace,” said Glenn Enoch, vice president of Integrated Media Research, ESPN.  “We knew from other sources that cord cutting was a very minor behavior, but we now have the ability to quantify this group and monitor it in the future.”

ESPN reports that, while the popular image of a cord cutter imagines a young, high-tech, viewer who consumes most of their video content online, the study found that – of the 0.11 per cent of households who did cut the cord – they were mainly middle-aged, middle-income households and persons who are light or non-streamers. In short, cord cutters are more likely to be recession-challenged householders making hard choices about their expenses.

ESPN Research + Analytics had previously used data from Nielsen, and other research providers to determine that while online video consumption has soared in the past two years, TV viewing had continued to increase.  Previous analysis had also shown that video consumption is not a zero-sum proposition – viewers of online video are actually heavier viewers of TV.

Categories: Articles, Consumer Behaviour, Pay TV, Research