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GfK: Cord-cutting on the rise in US

June 24, 2013

cord-cuttingResearch from GfK Media & Entertainment shows that the estimated number of Americans now relying exclusively on over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasting increased to 59.7 million, up from 54 million just a year ago. The percentage of TV households currently OTA reliant has now grown from 14 per cent in 2010 to 19.3 per cent in the current survey, a 38 per cent increase in just four years. The survey also found that the demographics of broadcast-only households continue to skew toward younger adults, minorities and lower-income families.

The 2013 Ownership Survey and Trend Report, part of The Home Technology Monitor research series, found that 19.3 per cent of all US households with TVs rely solely on OTA signals to watch TV programming; this compares with 17.8 per cent of homes reported as broadcast-only last year. Overall, GfK estimates that 22.4 million households representing 59.7 million consumers receive television exclusively through broadcast signals and are not subscribing to a pay-TV service (i.e. a traditional pay-TV service such as cable, satellite, Verizon FIOS or AT&T U-Verse).

“Over-the-air households continue to grow, making up an increasingly sizeable portion of television viewers,” says David Tice, Senior Vice President, GfK Media & Entertainment. And, the proportion of households that have never paid for cable or satellite service also continues to grow. “Our research reveals that over-the-air broadcasting remains an important distribution platform of TV programming; this year’s results confirm the statistically significant growth in the number of broadcast-only TV households in the US, which we identified in 2012.”

According to the 2013 study, 5.9 per cent of TV households “cut the cord” in their current home at some point in the past. Among households that eliminated pay-TV service responding to the 2013 survey, most report overall cost-cutting or not enough value for cost as the reason for doing so (respondents could give more than one reason). These were also the top reasons given in the 2012 survey for eliminating pay-TV service.

The survey found that minorities currently make up 41 per cent of all broadcast-only homes, up from 38 per cent in 2010. In the most recent study, 23 per cent of Asian (down from 30 per cent in 2010), 22 per cent of African-American (up from 12 per cent in 2010) and 25 per cent of Latino households (up from 23 per cent in 2010) are OTA reliant. Currently, Latino households that prefer speaking Spanish at home are increasingly giving up pay-TV services. In 2013, just half (49 per cent) of these households had a pay TV service, down from 67 per cent in 2010.

Homes headed by younger adults are also more likely to access TV programming exclusively through broadcast signals. Twenty-eight percent of homes with a head of household age 18-34 (up from 18 per cent in 2010) are broadcast only, compared with 19 per cent of homes in which the head of household is 35-49, or 17 per cent of homes in which the head of household is 50 years of age or older. Two out of ten (21 per cent) younger over-the-air households have never purchased a pay TV service according to the current survey.

Lower-income households also trend towards broadcast-only television, with 30 per cent of homes having an annual income under $30,000 receiving TV signals solely over-the-air (up from 22 per cent in 2010). In comparison, 11 per cent of homes with incomes $75,000 or greater currently rely exclusively on broadcast signals, a proportion that has changed little since 2010.

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