If Cord Cutting Isn’t Real Yet, Just Wait: It Will Be

By  |  Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 12:55 am

96.7 percent of us Americans have one or more TVs in the household. That’s a lot of TVs–but it’s fewer than before, say a new study by the Nielsen Company. Previously, 98.9 percent of us had TVs in the house.

So did the drop–the first one in two decades–happen because people are watching Internet TV in lieu of old-fashioned cable or terrestrial TV? Nielsen says it’s a factor, but it stresses another (distressing) one: low-income households which can’t afford TVs, especially after the digital transition rendered old analog sets useless without an adapter.

Cord-cutting is sometimes dismissed as a myth. And it’s true that no data shows TV watchers fleeing to the net in massive numbers just yet. But I feel in my bones that an awful lot of people are going to do so over the next few years–it’s just a matter of how many and how quickly. I mean, wouldn’t there have been a time in the 1990s when any study would have showed that only a tiny group of folks were listening to MP3s instead of CDs? And wouldn’t it have been a mistake to conclude then that this digital-music stuff wasn’t going to amount to much?

(Photo by Flickr user avlxyz)



11 Comments For This Post

  1. @will_blake Says:

    How its been done here for 30 years: http://wilblake.com/#tv

  2. apsheehan Says:

    My wife and I sold our TV about 4 months ago and now rely on library books and Hulu for our entertainment. Well, mostly on Hulu. For us it is mainly just the desire to simplify our lives, which I think is a growing trend among our generation. Same reason that yoga is popular, I suppose.

  3. pond Says:

    The big unknown to cord-cutting and being entertained online is how the duopoly telco and cableco industry will react. As household budgets get tighter and tighter, we are forced to choose between cable tv and internet bills. If we can get all the video entertainment we want via internet, it seems the cable bill will be the one we drop first.

    But if the ISP monopolists institute low data caps, throttle Netflix, Youtube and Hulu and the like, we won’t be able to get video entertainment on the internet — not all we want. This pushes us to rent DVDs from Netflix — or else, maybe, get a decent onair antenna and hook it up to the HDTV. That’s a one time expense, and it just might save local broadcast channels from this onslaught.

    To me the picture is far from clear. Personally I’d like to see a return to old time radio! That’s something you can listen to while you do other things.

  4. lunarflame17 Says:

    I still have a TV, but only so I can hook up my video game consoles to it. I used to have a satellite dish, but I cancelled my subscription once I realized that virtually everything I would ever want to watch is on Netflix anyway.

  5. Dave Barnes Says:

    "And it’s true that no data show TV watchers fleeing to the net in massive numbers just yet. But I feel in my bones that an awful lot of people are going to do so over the next few years"

    Inflection points are very difficult to predict. Especially early on.

    Trust your bones.

  6. Dave Says:

    One reason this may happen is advertising. You can record a show and skip all the commercials, but if you watch a show online, you are forced to watch commercials. Ther reall issue is who is going to pay for all the bandwidth of all that streaming video.

  7. Millard Says:

    We're moving to a new place this summer and plan to do our best to switch to internet-based video entertainment. We expect the small number of things we may have to do without won't justify the cost of satellite TV (in addition to a good internet connection which is far more important to us).

  8. Rachel Says:

    Yeah, I think this is an indication, but also slightly misleading. Just because someone cuts the cable doesn't mean they don't own a TV. I too use my TV to play a video game or watch a movie. Ironically, sometimes I even hook my laptop up to it and watch an internet show streaming on my TV!

  9. Devin Says:

    I think SpikeTV and AMC are the only networks that I'm missing with switching to Hulu. I'm VERY close to making the switch now that my grocery + gas for cars have increased $200+ per month combined. The extra $60 per month saved on cable would definitely lessen the blow.

  10. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Harry, you need to search out the national poll done a few years ago that showed LOTS of people spending time on the net (not TV on the Net) rather than watching TV. There is the answer to your question.

  11. j.neutron Says:

    Also interesting because when Neilson people call, I don't think I give them one piece of truthful information. I told them I had 36 televisions in my condo. I can't be the only person that detests cold-call surveys and polling.