The No. 1 Misperception on Cord-Cutting

By Chris Foley NCC Media Archives

We’re all too familiar with the myth perpetrated in the media industry that Americans are cutting the cord at an alarming rate and migrating to subscription streaming services.  The hard facts simply don’t support that.  In the last two years, the cable sub count has dropped by 2.5 million.  That’s a scant 2.5% of cable homes; there are still 99 million homes in the U.S. that have cable.  Nothing alarming there.  The bigger question about the impact of cord-cutting is where did the cord cutters go when they left and, as a group, who are they? 

It turns out that the vast majority (80%) of the people that cut the cord opted for rabbit ears.  That’s right, they bought digital converter boxes to get signals from the five broadcasters.  Which is fine, with the notable exception that this group of Broadcast Only Homes has one of the least favorable demographic profiles in media.  The presentation available for download below shows that Broadcast Only Homes do not constitute a consumer-rich environment and under-index on every standard measure of consumerism. 

The common perception that the loss is coming from well-heeled Millennials who’ve cancelled their cable subscription to spend the day streaming video on their new iPhone 7 simply isn’t the case. Advertisers won’t miss the folks leaving cable. NCC Media’s presentation looks at the impact broadcast-only viewers have had on broadcast demographics in general.  We focused on programming including local broadcast news, which represents the largest pool of available advertising inventory, and aligned that data alongside cable. 

It is vital that we break the cycle of investment decisions that are being made based on cord-cutting misconceptions. These misconceptions have the potential to move buyers away from cable and the reality is advertisers and agencies should be shoring up their cable relationships and making a bigger play in cable media. Stated simply: Cable is where the consumers are.

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