Nielsen: Cord-cutting may be vastly overstated | Media Analysis | Business
By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our privacy policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them. [Close]

Cord-cutting may not be such a thing after all. Nielsen has released new data on TV viewership, including the latest numbers on cable subscriptions, subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix and the amount of user churn for both.

Startlingly, the numbers show that 93% of cable subscribers who also have a SVOD service are more likely to drop the SVOD than they are cable.

“Cable may have a little more staying power than it’s actually being given credit for recently,” said Glenn Enoch, senior VP of audience insights for the measurement and data service.

Enoch added that further, a full 99% of cable subscribers who also had SVOD still had cable three months later. Only around 4% tended to drop the SVOD service.

But what of the so-called Millennials, those 18- to 34-year-olds who grew up digital and are likely to stay that way? Nielsen has found that while they’re most likely to drop their cable subscriptions, they’re also, paradoxically, more likely to add them — indicating transience rather than new consumption habits.

“They move around a lot,” Enoch said. “Older adults are less likely to move, drop cable service and add it back on after they move.”

Nielsen also said that there is a seasonal shift in cable-subscriber churn, with more of it taking place in the fourth and first quarters of the year, but less in the second and third quarters.

Nielsen also has noted that loyalty is at an all-time low, so subscribers have no qualms about moving to different cable suppliers to find a better deal.

In all, “cable may have a little more staying power than it’s actually being given credit for recently,” said Enoch.

Still, other researchers disagree with Nielsen’s conclusions. Parks Associates recently found that the number of households planning to cancel their pay-TV service (potential cord-cutters) has increased, reaching 7% of US broadband + TV households. Parks also noted that the new deal between Apple and HBO to stream the HBO Now streaming service to Apple devices is just the latest example of reasons why consumers will continue to cut the cord.

"The pay-TV industry is experiencing a slow crisis in terms of paying customers," said Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates.

"Content is key to attracting and retaining consumers, and consumers are now looking beyond pay-TV for that content."