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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 01, 2013

TV Cord-Cutters, Cord-Nevers Total 19 Percent of US Adults

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Cable may have a bad reputation when it comes to offering value for the money, but it’s still managing to hang onto consumers. Nearly half of U.S. adults (45 percent) think cable TV is a waste of money, yet 81 percent report they are currently subscribed to cable or satellite television services, research has revealed. But what of the other 19 percent?

A Harris Interactive (News - Alert) survey sponsored by CouponCabin.com showed that the 19 percent who have decided to find entertainment elsewhere are a mixture of cord-cutters and cord-nevers. More than one-in-10 (11 percent) of U.S. adults report they have previously subscribed to satellite or cable TV, but don't anymore. But a full 8 percent said they have never subscribed to any television services.

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Unsurprisingly, young Americans ages 18-34 are more likely (15 percent) to have never had television services than those ages 35 and older (5 percent).

When it comes to how much viewers are shelling out on their cable or satellite TV bills, U.S. adults are typically paying $100 or less (69 percent). Only 16 percent pay $101 - $149 and 10 percent pay $150 - $199. Premium TV junkies are by far the fewest in number, with just 5 percent of U.S. pay-TV customers paying $200 or more for their subscriptions.

"Despite the big bills that arrive month after month for TV services, most Americans continue to subscribe," said Jackie Warrick, senior savings adviser at CouponCabin.com. "In fact, 15 percent of cable subscribers we surveyed said they would never consider dropping cable TV services. As more viewing options arise at lower price points, though, it's likely more consumers will pull the plug.”

Another expected finding of the survey is the fact that sports fans may have a harder time cutting the cable TV cord—live sports of course being a rarity in the over-the-top (OTT) online video universe. More than four in 10 (43 percent) of U.S. adults report they won't cancel cable TV services because of the live sports programming. On the flip side, 14 percent of current U.S. cable subscribers said they would cut their cable cord if there were alternative ways to watch live sports broadcasts.

In addition to live sports programming options, when asked what situations would motivate them to cut the cable TV cord, current U.S. cable subscribers said the following:

  • If there were other, less costly, alternatives – 56 percent
  • If I couldn't afford to watch cable anymore – 55 percent
  • If I wasn't watching TV often enough – 27 percent
  • If there were alternative ways to watch live broadcasts – 17 percent
  • If I only watch a few of the channels – 17 percent
  • Other – 5 percent

And cablecos beware: Regardless of the cost, live programming options or changing viewing habits, some cable TV subscribers decide to switch to other providers because of customer service issues. Nearly one-third (32 percent) report they have switched cable providers because of poor service (e.g. customer service, picture quality).

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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