70 Percent of U.S. Consumers Remain Loyal Pay-TV Subscribers

NEW YORK—Many U.S. consumers may be cutting back or cutting out their pay-TV subscriptions, but the percentage of customers who remain loyal to their cable, satellite or IPTV service remains strong, according to the findings of new research from GfK MRI.

The research, New Cord Evolution, finds that 71 percent of all U.S. consumers say they subscribe to a pay-TV service, and 97 percent of them say they are not looking to cut the cord.

While younger viewers who grew up with smartphones and tablets are often cited as the demographic group leading the cord-cutting phenomenon, the survey found that 58 percent of 18-to-34-year olds remain loyal pay-TV subscribers.

Those older are even more tied to pay-TV. Sixty-nine percent of those age 35 to 49 subscribe, and 80 percent of people 50 years old and older remain loyal pay-TV customers, it found.

[Read: Cord-Cutting Pace Accelerates As Viewers Seek Premium Programming, Says EMarketer]

“The fact is that pay-TV services still account for most of the TV watching that happens in the U.S.,” said Amy Hunt, VP of TVideo Media Sales at MRI. “Many of their subscribers simply cannot imagine a new way of doing things.”

Top reasons for continuing to subscriber include reliability and comfort. Adults ranging in age from 18 to 64 say their No. 1 reason for continuing to subscribe is they are “used to it,” followed by “convenient to have everything in one place” and “I need it to watch the shows I want to watch.”

Younger viewers between 18 and 34 cite channel surfing and access to live content as their top reasons for continuing to subscribe.

The research also revealed that 55 percent of those loyal to their pay-TV subscriptions are adding other services, such as streaming video. Seventy-six percent of 18-to-34-year-old subscribers are adding new service.

While seven in 10 remain loyal to pay-TV, this group has declined since 2015 when 77 percent of all U.S. adults subscribed. The decline is sharper still among 18-to-34-year-old respondents, with a 9-point decline from 67 percent to 58 percent over the same period.

Hunt cautions “…as younger generations more comfortable with streaming technologies set up households, cable and satellite companies need to find ways to remain attractive and relevant.”

More information is available on the GfK MRI website.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.