updated 11:20 am EST, Thu February 9, 2012
Nielsen says most cord-cutting about cost
New Nielsen data about TV viewing habits has shown that cord-cutters, or those who drop paid TV in favor of Internet viewing, are often decreasing their viewing habits as a whole. Someone who has broadband but only watches traditional TV over the air watches less than half that of a regular cable subscriber, at nearly 123 minutes a day on average instead of 257, but still uses it much more than Internet streaming. These viewers typically saw no more than 11.2 minutes a day of streaming video, which was over double the five minutes of a cable subscriber but far from a direct substitute.
The shift implies that many of these viewers either had fewer shows to watch or were willing to watch less as a whole to save money or just to do more with their spare time.
The vast majority of viewers, 90.4 percent, still subscribed to some kind of paid TV package, although 70.8 percent of these had Internet access at the same time. The number of those with both had grown by 5.5 percent. The volume those subscribing to paid cable had gone down by 4.1 percent, however.
Incumbent cable and satellite providers have usually denied cord cutting exists and have pinned any lost subscribers on tough economic times rather than active dislike of their services. With the rises of either direct substitutes like Hulu, iTunes, and Netflix, or else complete alternatives like YouTube, however, many can get either the content they missed at lower prices or something that's a suitable substitute. Conventional providers haven't helped their cases by often raising prices once or twice a year, ostensibly to offset channel costs.