There are numerous reports being based on Nielsen's 4th Quarter Cross-Platform report talking about the number of cord-cutters, or "Zero TV" users there are out there. The number of "Zero TV" households is at 5 million, which is up from a little over 2 million in 2007, and it shows a trend that we know is happening and many feel might mean the end of TV and the ushering in of video. But it does not mean the "death knell of TV" as some would have you believe. Most of the reports on this acknowledge that 5 million only represents 5% of the market.
Cord-Cutting Numbers Are Interesting, But Really Just Show Increasing Options Among Consumers
Just like TV didn't mean the death of radio, or home video the death of movie theatres, digital content will not be the end of TV. I think most people know that, but there's this feeling that one day video is just going to overtake TV. If that's true, I don't think it's going to happen soon, and it doesn't have to happen at all for video to thrive. And there are so many people who exercise all the entertainment options available, so exclusivity is overrated. Notice that the study cites 2 million "Zero TV" homes in 2007, and 5 years later, that number is 5 million. Considering all the advances in video since 2007, this increase seems kind of low for those looking for video to be the de facto source of entertainment anytime soon.
Also, 67% of those homes watch video, so a little over half of that group is still watching anything at all. So not all of this cord-cutting is due to the availability of online content.
Having worked at movie theatres for a really long time, I kept hearing the "death knell of movie theatres" argument for all the reasons we always hear: the prices are too high and it's easier to watch stuff at home now. Well, I've always said that people enjoy the social aspect of movie theatres. It's date night, it's escapism, it's a reason to leave your house. While there will always be people who decide not to go and there will continue to be people who decide that it's not for them anymore, there will always be a market for movie theatres because of the social aspect and the fact that people like watching movies on a huge screen with the latest Dolby Digital sound.
The same goes for TV and cable. Cable prices are pretty outrageous, but there will always be people willing to pay the price because of the relaxation, the "unwinding" aspect of TV, the ability to "veg out" on the couch and watching sports or a movie or a sitcom. Just because a lot of people decide to cut the cord, does not mean most people are.
And people who said TV was the death of radio underestimated the usefulness of a radio in a car.
What I think this study means more than anything is that we're just seeing the entertainment market making room for all the viable options. Video will continue to grow, TV will continue to recede a bit, but the complete death of anything as we know it isn't happening. What's great is that there are a lot of options for your entertainment dollar, and that's what I'll embrace.