Almost ¾ of US consumers have a TV cord and plan to keep it – MRI

Among those who have pay-TV service, 97% have no plans to cut the cord

NEW YORK, August 27, 2018 -- While cord cutting and shaving may be challenges for pay-TV providers, the vast majority of US consumers still say they are not ready to give up on these proven and deeply established sources of entertainment.

New Cord Evolution research from GfK MRI shows that almost three-quarters (71%) of all US consumers say they have cable, satellite, or telco TV service and have no plans to drop it. This includes the majority of the crucial 18-to-34 age group (58%), as well as 69% of people ages 35 to 49, and 80% of those 50 and over.

To view an infographic from this study, click here.

Reliability and comfort are top reasons that these viewers cite for sticking with their cords. Among adults ages 18 to 64, the #1 reason for keeping pay-TV is simply being “used to it,” followed by “convenient to have everything in one place” and “I need it to watch the shows I want to watch.”

Young adults (ages 18 to 34), however, are more likely to cite channel surfing and access to live content as reasons why they are sticking with their cords.

Large numbers of pay-TV subscribers are adding to their cord services rather than replacing them. Over half (55%) of pay-TV loyalists are “stacking” other services – such as subscription streaming video – on top of cable or satellite access. Among 18-to-34 loyalists, the proportion of “stackers” rises to 76%.

Cord trends since 2015

Although roughly three-quarters of consumers are still “loyal to the cord,” MRI has seen a 6 percentage point decline in this group since 2015, from 77% of all US adults to 71% now. And among those 18 to 34, this metric has fallen 9 points, from 67% to 58%, in the same timeframe.

MRI’s research also shows that 52% of these pay-TV loyalists in the 50-plus age group have never streamed and only access TV through traditional pay-TV services. 

“The fact is that pay-TV services still account for most of the TV watching that happens in the US,” said Amy Hunt, VP of TVideo Media Sales at MRI. “Many of their subscribers simply cannot imagine a new way of doing things. But as younger generations more comfortable with streaming technologies set up households, cable and satellite companies need to find ways to remain attractive and relevant.”

These findings come from MRI’s Cord Evolution research and are based on 24,000 in-person, in-home interviews in MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer®, asking about cord intentions. Cord Evolution research tracks levels of “cord disruption” (who is cutting, who is increasing) among 10 unique viewing groups, revealing the impact of new digital offerings on traditional cord subscriptions and linear behavior. This research measures not just what and how they are watching, but also the why’s behind their viewing and subscription choices.

MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer® represents the gold standard in traditional planning and consumer insights. It is accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC), which conducts annual audits of MRI’s methodology, fieldwork, analytics, and data handling systems. On behalf of clients and the industry, the MRC assures that audience measurement services are valid, reliable, and effective.

About Simmons Research

Simmons Research is the leading source of cross-channel consumer intelligence. Simmons measures American consumer psychographics, preferences, attitudes, and media behaviors by closely overlaying survey and passively measured data using advanced measurement sciences. For more than 60 years, Simmons has helped leading brands, agencies, and media companies effectively engage with consumers, providing measurement of over 60,000 consumer elements, including all major media, 600 attitudes and opinions, 500 product categories, and 8,000 brands. For more information, please visit and follow @simmonsresearch on Twitter.

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