As Video Streaming Gains Popularity, Are People Really Cutting the (Cable) Cord?

A Consumer Reports study says that people are combining streaming and cable services, not cord cutting like some would suggest.


If it seems like just about everyone streams some type of service like Netflix or Amazon, a recent survey from the magazine Consumer Reports (CR) just about validates that statement.

After polling more than 1,000 U.S. adults this past February, and analyzing the responses from the questionnaire results from its 82,000-subscription base, CR discovered some interesting results. The data found that nearly half of U.S. households—47 percent—now use some type of streaming service such as Netflix or a pay-as-you-go option such as iTunes.

The study also found that despite the increased use of the term “cord cutter” consumers are not completely abandoning their cable and satellite services as rapidly as the term’s usage would lead the media industry to believe.

Commenting on the survey’s data, CR says “our surveys show that while traditional TV services continue to lose customers, cord cutters make up a trickle of users rather than a torrent. Despite the widespread availability of both paid and free advertising supported streaming services, more than two thirds—68 percent—still subscribe to a cable TV or similar pay TV service.”

Read: Directors Speak Out About Same-Day Home Movie Streaming

Arguably the most surprising piece of information to come from the survey is that more than three quarters of the survey’s participants stated they would not drop their cable subscriptions because they are “relatively happy with their provider.”

Where streaming is affecting the subscription to cable TV services is the level of users’ subscriptions. According to the numbers, 20 percent of CR’s subscribers have either downsized their cable subscription (11 percent) or completed eliminated their cable service (9 percent).

The magazine points out that one of the factors to consider in cable subscribers’ decisions is this: many consumers receive Internet service from their cable companies and the elimination of cable subscriptions may not deliver the desired savings consumers consider valuable.

Another factor affecting the decision to cut the cord is the accessibility of local broadcast affiliates such as ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

A final factor in the cord cutting decision process is the availability of live sporting events. While available in limited quality through specific league subscription packages from the four major sport leagues, games may be blacked out, and CR adds that ESPN is only available to cord cutters as part of the Sling TV bundled package.

About the Author

Robert Archer
Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob has also served as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In his personal time beyond his family, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Binda Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.




AmazonCableConsumer ReportsNetflix