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TV 'cord cutters' and 'cord nevers' increase, finds Nielsen study

A new report by Nielsen reveals a rise in homes with over-the-air TV and a broadband connection, but no cable, satellite or IPTV service. It’s still a small segment of the overall U.S. population (5% of households), it’s grown 22.8% over the last year. While this group still watches much more traditional TV than broadband-delivered video, it watches half as much TV and streams twice as much video as the general population.

Does this mean “cord cutting” is on the rise? Nielsen avoids such a declaration in its report, but I think the best explanation comes from Credit Suisse analyst Stefan Anninger, who coined the term “cord nevers” last year. “The real challenge to the pay TV business model are behaviorally-driven cord-nevers,” he said in November report. “These are tomorrow’s householders that are in their teens (and younger) today. They are growing up in an Internet-based video culture, in which the mantra of ‘why pay for TV?’ and ‘pay TV is a rip-off,’ develop.”

What’s also interesting to note is the industry still distinguishes between “streaming video” and “watching TV.” If you ask many people in this 5% group, they’d say that watching a Hulu show on their TV set is watching TV, not necessarily streaming a video. It’s just like on-demand TV — especially with devices like Roku that makes it so easy — and an emerging demographic of younger viewers make no distinction. This is one terrific reason why pay TV providers are making their services more social and portable, hoping to engage this elusive, tech-savvy demographic.

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