71% of U.S. consumers have pay TV, plan to keep it

According to GfK MRI, while cord cutting and shaving may be challenges for pay TV providers, the vast majority of U.S. consumers still say ...

71% of U.S. consumers have pay TV, plan to keep it
71% of U.S. consumers have pay TV, plan to keep it

According to GfK MRI, while cord cutting and shaving may be challenges for pay TV providers, the vast majority of U.S. consumers still say they are not ready to give up on pay TV.

The research house says 71% of all U.S. consumers surveyed say they have cable, satellite or telco TV service, and 97% of those say they have no plans to drop it. The total includes 58% of the 18-to-34 age group, as well as 69% of people ages 35 to 49, and 80% of those 50 and older.

Reliability and comfort are top reasons that those viewers cite for sticking with their cords. Among adults ages 18 to 64, the No. 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 for sticking with pay TV.

Large numbers of pay TV subscribers are adding to their pay TV services rather than replacing them. Some 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%.

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

MRI's research also indicates that 52% of 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 U.S.," 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."

The 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.

More in Video