ESPN has just released a study that sheds some light on people’s cord cutting habits—or lack thereof. Using Nielsen data, ESPN has determined that a paltry 0.11 percent of U.S. households have dropped cable and/or satellite TV over the past three months. That rounds down to essentially nobody in my estimation. Even more interesting is exactly who these cord cutters are, and they’re not who you’d most likely suspect.
It turns out that, of the 0.11 percent of people who cut the cord, they’re “mainly middle-aged, middle-income households and persons who are light or non-streamers. In short, cord cutters are more likely to be recession-challenged householders making hard choices about their expenses.”
In other words, everything you thought you knew about cord cutting is probably wrong.
ESPN commissioned the study to figure out exactly where it, the top rated sports network in the country, fits in this new world of Google TVs, Boxee Boxes, and streaming Netflix. It turns out the network has nothing to worry about, given the low number of cord cutters in general, and particularly among medium to heavy sports viewers. Medium to heavy sports viewers, which make up 90 percent of ESPN’s audience, have shown “zero cord cutting.”
Remember: this is the same ESPN that’s trying to figure out how best to use 3D, too. (At least the network is pro-active about integrating new technologies!)
The results make all sorts of sense on a few fronts.
One, as I’ve suspected for some time now, this cord cutting business is for the birds. As Matt reiterated the other day, the single best way to watch television right now is to put up with a cable or satellite provider. If you think you’re going to successfully cut the cord and scratch your TV itch solely based on what’s available to you on Hulu, or available to you on your Google TV box, ha! It’s easier said than done, particularly if you’re a sports fan.
That, and there’s a certain elegance to coming home from work, plopping down on the couch in front of the TV, then watching Some Show that can’t quite be matched with any combination of streaming boxes and services.
Watching TV is a passive activity. The minute you have to start praying to the gods of technology in hopes that everything works without a hitch, you may as well be reading. And nobody reads anymore.
What has surprised me is exactly who is cutting the cord. As it turns out, no, it’s not the hip cat on Grand Avenue with blue blockers, Back to the Future shoes, and a Nexus S. Nope: it’s people who’ve been hit hard by the recession and the resulting unemployment. This goes against what’s been seen in past recessions, that people may cut down on other expenses and activities (going out to dinner and the like), but they sure as heck will keep their TV service up and running.
Apparently not anymore.