Cord-Cutters Could Be Tough to Win Back

Cord-cutters represent a small-yetgrowing group, but a new nScreenMedia study has found that they also represent a segment of content consumers that will be tough to bring back to the pay TV fold.

Roughly 84% of cord cutters are “at least somewhat happy with their decision,” while 37% claim to be so thrilled that they have no plans to ever take a traditional pay TV service again, California-based nScreenMedia found in a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults with broadband access.

The report, titled View My Video: Consumer Digital Media Consumption, also found that 17% of U.S. broadband subscribers surveyed say they once subscribed to pay TV but have since left their provider; 10% are “cord-nevers” who have yet to subscribe to pay TV; and 74% said they subscribe to a TV service.

“A growing group of broadband consumers are finding that life without pay TV is not only plausible, but also pleasurable,” Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst of nScreenMedia, said in a statement.

Just 31% of this cord-cutting group said they miss TV shows they can’t get elsewhere, but a mere 9% said they missed sports channels — a category that is typically seen as the glue that can help to keep traditional video-service bundles together.

Dixon surmised that these findings indicate that cable operators and other pay TV providers will face a significant challenge as they seek out new ways to appeal to defectors.

The good news for pay TV is that the service still dominates usage among customers who haven’t fled. According to nScreenMedia, pay TV subscribers spend a median 12.98 hours each week using the service, followed by Internet-based subscription VOD (4.89 hours), free over-the-air TV (4.72 hours), free Internet video (3.49 hours) and owned digital movies and TV shows (3.12 hours).

Another silver lining — pay TV, as a whole, just registered a decent quarter. The top 13 U.S. multichannel video programming distributors, representing 94% of the market, added 260,000 net video subs in the first quarter, with the largest MSOs shedding 50,000 subs for the fewest quarterly losses in the category over a five-year span, according to Leichtman Research Group.

The nScreenMedia study also shed light on which sites were most popular among online video users, with YouTube having established a big lead.