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ESPN analysis finds cord cutting to be nonissue for multichannel TV

The number of U.S. households cutting the cord, or discontinuing their pay-TV subscriptions in favor of watching TV via broadband Internet connection, remained near zero between the last quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011, according to a new analysis of Nielsen households conducted by ESPN.

For the period, ESPN found that the rate of those dumping their subscription to cable, telco or satellite TV service in favor of watching TV online was 0.18 percent, lower than the 0.28 percent registered from Q3 to Q4 2010. The slight decline in the most recent period measured was offset by 0.18 percent of households in the Nielsen sample that were broadcast-only but replaced their rabbit ears with a multichannel subscription. ESPN based its findings on an analysis of Nielsen’s national people meter sample.

The study showed that the number of multichannel homes adding a broadband connection was more than four times as large as the cord-cutting group.

The ESPN analysis also revealed that 71 percent of people in cord-cutting households did not stream content or were light users of streamed content, which runs contrary to the popular notion that cord cutters opt out of multichannel TV service in favor of watching content online.