Cord cutting gains steam after 4% drop last year

US cable subscriptions down by 30 million since 2020.

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Cord cutting is gaining steam again, with 30% of US cable users saying it’s likely they will end their subscriptions in the next six months. That’s up from 26% last year and about the same as in 2020, according to a new poll from YouGov.

Cable subscriptions down. Overall, there are about 30 million fewer cable subscribers in the US this year than in 2020 where there were slightly more 140 million. People who have both cable and OTT subscriptions are the largest segment of US TV viewers at 32%. Next up are the cord cutters who are 19%, then 13% who only have cable and 11% who subscribe to streaming services but never had cable.

Dig deeper: Cable TV subscriptions set to drop below 50% of all US households

Top streamers. For all the hand-wringing (and stock-price falling) about the drop in Netflix subscriptions, the company still has 63% of the US streaming market, followed by YouTube (44%), Hulu (42%) and Amazon Prime (39%). Fast-growing Disney+ has 27%. And you know YouTube’s pop-up ads for its TV service? Apparently they’re not doing the trick, as only 9% of viewers have signed on.

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Live TV. The pandemic has been hard on live TV. There’s been an 11% drop since 2018, with only 79% of Americans now saying they watch it at least once a week. That’s nearly tied with on-demand, which jumped from 68% four years ago to 78% in 2021.

Netflix news. Other good news/bad news for Netflix from the survey: Only 25% of Americans say they share passwords for streaming services. That’s pretty good, considering 36% say it’s OK. On the other hand, the company had only two of the top 10 most popular new series last year, while Disney + had six. CBS and The CW had the other two.  

Odd fact. 8% of viewers say they enjoy watching TV/videos more when it has commercials.

Why we care. Despite slowing last year, it’s clear that cord-cutting is going to keep going. This is really bad news if you’re a cable company and really useful if you’re trying to plan your ad-spend. The 8% not above is truly an outlier, 62% of viewers say commercials make viewing less enjoyable. This is not a hopeful sign for Netflix ad-supported viewing plans.

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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman
Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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