New Survey Shows 27 Percent of U.S. Households Plan to Cut Cable TV Subscriptions in 2021
American households are cutting the cord on their cable subscriptions more rapidly than previously reported, according to the second Future of TV survey of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers by The Trade Desk (Nasdaq: TTD). The data shows 27 percent of U.S. cable TV subscribers are planning to cut their subscriptions by the end of 2021. That percentage is nearly double the 15 percent of cable subscribers who reported cutting the cord in 2020, and significantly higher than the approximate 3 percent annual decline reported by eMarketer prior to 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated consumer behaviors and trends that are defining a new era of TV consumption. With more U.S. consumers working at home, many under increased budget pressure, and with the broader availability of streaming services, streaming consumption now accounts for 68 percent of TV viewing versus 28 percent for traditional TV viewing.
Even live sports can’t keep viewers tethered to traditional TV as more U.S. households turn from cable to streaming platforms to watch their favorite teams. After a pause in live sports caused by the pandemic, almost 39 percent of sports viewers are now watching live sports events via connected TV (CTV) such as ad-supported streaming and social media platforms, according to the survey. Only 30 percent of U.S. consumers cite live sports as a reason for maintaining a cable TV subscription – significantly down from the 60 percent that cited live programming, including sports, just nine months previously.
“COVID has accelerated cord-cutting trends that were already underway, to a point where less than 50 percent of U.S. households today have a cable subscription. It’s not because U.S. consumers have fallen out of love with TV, but that there are now more convenient ways of consuming it. That even applies to traditional cable mainstays, such as live sports,” said Tim Sims, Chief Revenue Officer, The Trade Desk. “As more broadcasters launch and expand their streaming services, these gaps are only going to widen.”
As Americans shift to CTV, there’s a limit to their tolerance for subscription services. Fifty-one percent of U.S. consumers are unwilling to spend more than $20 in total per month on streaming subscriptions, according to the survey. Furthermore, U.S. TV viewers are more than five times more likely to prefer free or low-cost streaming TV with ads, over streaming services with higher monthly subscription fees with no ads (72 percent versus 14 percent).