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Report: Cord-Cutters to Total 22.2 Million by Year’s End

NEW YORK—Consumers are still cutting the cord in large numbers according to a recent report from eMarketer. By the end of 2017, eMarketer is predicting that the total number of U.S. consumers that will have cut the cord will total 22.2 million, up 33.2 percent from the 16.7 million in 2016.

In addition, the “cord-nevers”—consumers who have never had pay TV—are also forecasted to grow this year, reaching a total of 34.4 million, a 5.8 percent growth year-over-year. Looking ahead to the next few years, eMarketer sees the cord-cutting trend continuing to the point where by 2021 the number of cord-cutters will almost be equal to the cord-nevers, somewhere around 41 million.

“Younger audiences continue to switch to either exclusively watching OTT video or watching them in combination with free TV options,” said Chris Bendtsen, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer. “Last year, even the Olympics and presidential elections could not prevent younger audiences from abandoning pay-TV.”

Pay-TV, meanwhile, appears to be on the decline per eMarketer’s report. A total of 196.3 million U.S. adults are expected to watch pay-TV in 2017, which is down 2.4 percent from 2016. By 2021, that number could fall nearly 10 percent. The age gap is they key difference, as pay TV viewers 55 and above are expected to rise during the forecast period, but every other age group is predicted to decline.

Paul Verna, an eMarkter principal analyst, says factors contributing to the acceleration of cord-cutting includes the fact pay-TV operators are increasingly developing streaming platforms; networks like HBO and ESPN are launching standalone subscription services that don’t require a cable subscription; and digital players like Hulu and YouTube delivering live TV channels over the internet.

Less time is being spent in front of the TV too, with the average time spent watching TV (excluding digital) for U.S. adults falling to three hours 58 minutes, reportedly the first time the average has dropped under four hours. Digital video consumption, meanwhile, is on the rise, increasing 9.3 percent to an hour 17 minutes average a day.

See the full report, including how this is affecting TV advertising, on eMarketer’s website.