Millennials account for nearly half of US “cordless” population – GfK MRI

Generation relies heavily on streaming video, expects anywhere/anytime access to content

NEW YORK, January 23, 2017 -- When it comes to TV and video content, Millennials refuse to be tied down – with cable cords, telephone wires, or any other conventional delivery “pipe.”

According to GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer®, which surveys around 25,000 people in-person annually, Millennials (ages 18 to 34) account for 43% of the “cordless” population – those who have never had cable, satellite or fiber optic TV service and those who have “cut the cord.” That is by far the largest generational subsection of the cord-free group. Almost one-third (30%) of all US Millennials are cordless, compared to just 16% of Boomers.

These untethered Millennials turn to streaming for TV and video, spending two-thirds (65%) of their viewing time streaming via a TV set or other device. That is almost double the proportion for cordless Boomers (36%), who instead spend the majority (56%) of their viewing time watching live TV on a TV set over the airwaves.

GfK MRI also found that, compared to all Millennials, those who have cut the cord are more likely to use some key streaming entities. Their favorites are fairly standard -- YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime; but they also over-index for smaller entities like Crunchy Roll (241), Twitch (167), and the Adult Swim App (146).

Signs of an independent streak

Cordless Millennials place a premium on being independent, preferring to watch TV or video whenever and wherever they want. They are most likely to define “TV” as anything they can watch on any device – a TV, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. And when they sit down to watch TV or video, they are most likely to go to a specific show on a streaming service – with one-third (34%) of cord-free Millennials citing this as their default viewing strategy.

GfK MRI’s study also shows that Millennials are hard to reach because they are 44% more likely to be cord-free than the average US consumer. Cordless Millennials also do not use much media except for Internet – they are heavy streamers, heavy binge viewers, but light on overall TV watching.

“One in three Millennials is living without a cord – so understanding this population is a major priority for advertisers and marketers,” said Karen Ramspacher, SVP of Consumer Insights & Trends at GfK MRI. “These viewers are huge fans of quality programming and content – but they are not fond of being told where, when and how they should watch it. They view streaming services as well worth the money and producers of the best shows ‘on TV’. Appealing to this unusual combination of untethered living and discernment about content represents a sweet spot for marketers representing millions of brands worldwide.”

The findings come from GfK MRI’s Cord Evolution research and are based on around 25,000 respondents in GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer®.

To learn about purchasing this study, contact Karen Ramspacher at karen.ramspacher(at) 

About GfK

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