ESPN Analysis Reveals “Very Minor” Loss, Provides Means to Measure Cord-Cutters; Sports Fans Not Cutting Cord
New York, NY – The amount of “cord-cutters” – multichannel homes with a high-speed Internet connection that drop their cable/telco/satellite subscriptions, but retain their broadband connection to watch television – netted out to only 0.11 percent of the television population over the past three months, according to an extensive ESPN analysis of Nielsen’s national people meter sample. The ESPN study provides a methodology for measuring and tracking cord cutting in the future, while debunking several stereotypes about the demographics of cord cutters.
The study found that just 0.28 percent of homes in the Nielsen sample dropped multichannel service but kept their broadband Internet connections. This migration was offset by a group of broadcast-only households that became subscribers to multichannel TV and broadband over the same period. These “un-cutters” represented 0.17 percent of homes in the Nielsen sample, so the net loss between the groups was just 0.11 percent of all households. Additionally, people who were heavy or medium sports viewers showed zero cord cutting. Heavy and medium sports viewers account for 83% of sports viewing and 90% of viewing to ESPN.
The study also showed that the number of multichannel homes adding a broadband connection was nearly five times as large as the “cord cutter” group. Nielsen has reviewed and verified the findings of the analysis.
“This project adds critical intelligence to our understanding of the multichannel marketplace,” said Glenn Enoch, vice president of Integrated Media Research, ESPN. “We knew from other sources that cord cutting was a very minor behavior, but we now have the ability to quantify this group and monitor it in the future.”
While the popular image of a cord cutter imagines a young, high-tech, viewer who consumes most of their video content online, this study found that – of the 0.11 percent of households who did cut the cord – they were 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.
ESPN Research + Analytics had previously used data from Nielsen, and other research providers to determine that while online video consumption has soared in the past two years, TV viewing has continued to increase. Previous analysis has also shown that video consumption is not a zero-sum proposition – viewers of online video are actually heavier viewers of TV.
ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of more than 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of six 24-hour domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes) and ESPN 3D, an event-based network. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS HD are simulcast services. Other businesses include ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (46 networks, syndication, radio, websites), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN3.com (broadband sports network) ESPN Mobile, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN PPV and other growing new businesses, including ESPN on Demand and ESPN Interactive. Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.