Nearly 31 Million Americans Have Never Paid for Traditional TV

NEW YORK—Though “Cord Cutters” have been a popular group to follow as the traditional TV and streaming landscapes have evolved over the last few years, MRI-Simmons has revealed new research that shows there are a growing number of people who qualify as “Cord Nevers,” Americans that have never paid for a traditional TV connection.

New statistics show that about 31 million U.S. consumers, which represents about 12% of the adult population, fall into the Cord Never category. In 2017 that number was around 9%. Today, the median age for Cord Nevers is 33, while their average household income has increased from $41,500 in 2017 to $52,800 (a 27% increase).

Things may soon change for this group. MRI-Simmons reports that about 27% of Cord Nevers—around 8 million—plan to sign up for a pay-TV service in the next six months. Around 70% say they will subscribe to a traditional service (cable, fiber optic or satellite), while the remaining are looking at streaming TV packages, like Hulu with Live TV, DirecTV Now or Sling TV; among the 18-34 age range, 41% are looking at streaming options.

There are a variety of reasons Cord Nevers say they want to sign up for pay-TV services, with the ability to channel surf high among them, especially for those 35 and older. For those in the 18-34 age group, a good deal on a TV package and the easier ability to watch/find shows are key factors.

“Young people used to say that as soon as they got their first well-paying job, they would sign up for the full suite of traditional TV services,” said Karen Ramspacher, senior vice president innovations and insights at MRI-Simmons. “Today, there are many more options for connecting to TVideo content—so competition for these subscription dollars is fierce. As they grow in numbers and wealth, today’s Cord Nevers definitely represent an opportunity for content providers—but understanding the Nevers’ underlying motivations is essential to targeting them effectively.”