This Study Paints Different Streaming Portraits Of ‘Cord Cutters’, ‘Cord Nevers’

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Though they share one thing – the lack of a traditional paid cable or satellite TV subscription – “Cord Cutters” and “Cord Nevers” in the U.S differ in a host of ways, including their tastes in streaming video platforms and shows. That’s just one of the key finding from a new “Cord Evolution” studies from GfK MRI.


New research shows that four of the top 10 streaming shows among Cord Nevers (defined as TV viewers who have never paid for a traditional TV connection) do not even appear among the favorites of Cord Cutters (defined as viewers who had and then eliminated standard TV subscriptions).

While three of Cord Nevers’ favorite shows are found on Amazon or Hulu, all 10 of Cutters’ top shows are on Netflix.

The Cord Evolution studies from GfK MRI are published three times a year and include a sample size of 10,000 respondents across the U.S.

Cord Cutters account for 8% of the U.S. population and have an average age of 43 – while Cord Nevers are 9 years younger on average (age 34) and represent 9% of all US consumers. Some 52% of Cord Nevers are Millennials (ages 18 to 34), compared to just 35% of Cord Cutters.

Not surprisingly, Netflix is the No. 1 streaming video service among Cord Cutters, with 57% saying they have used the service in the past year; in addition, 50% said they had used YouTube and 37% used Amazon. Among Cord Nevers, YouTube beats out Netflix (46% versus 39%), with Amazon again coming in third – at a much lower 25%.

The most recent wave of data also shows that 60% of Cord Nevers said they are “very satisfied” with their current TV access situation, compared to 50% of Cord Cutters. However, some 22% of Cord Nevers also say they intend to subscribe to a traditional TV service in the next 6 months – a figure that is slightly higher (27%) among Millennial Cord Nevers.

Large percentages of Cord Nevers (43%) and Cord Cutters (50%) define “TV” as anything they can watch specifically on a TV set; but 29% of both Cutters and Nevers say that TV is “anything (they) can view on any device” (including a smartphone or tablet).

This media centric research shows that Cord Nevers are heavy short video viewers and over index for OTT services like BBC News, Showtime, and Vevo. The complete media profile reveals that Cord Cutters, on the other hand, are heavy internet users and are more likely to be parents (35%, index of 112); they also over-index for OTT services like PBS Video, Disney Movies, Sling TV and A&E.

“Cord Nevers and Cord Cutters bring very different histories and expectations to viewing,” said Karen Ramspacher, GfK MRI’s SVP/Consumer Insights and director of the Future of TV research program. “Both groups still have strong allegiance to TV sets and traditional programming models – but they clearly have different viewing tastes, and even diverge on their perceptions of what TV actually is. As Millennials get older, we can look for these populations to transform and perhaps grow more similar – while Gen Z will begin to shape the Cord Never group more and more.”

The findings come from GfK MRI’s Cord Evolution research and are based on 25,000 respondents in GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer.


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