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CTAM study: Cord keepers, not cord cutters

Mon, 11/15/2010 - 9:07am
Mike Robuck

A new study by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) has found that over-the-top video streaming and downloadable Internet videos are not leading to "cord cutting" by cable subscribers with broadband-connected TVs.

The cord-cutting debate has been ongoing, with pro-cord cutting researchers, including The Diffusion Group, maintaining that the impact from over-the-top video services and devices such as the iPad are eating into cable operators' subscriber numbers. Some cable operators have maintained that cord cutting is not taking place; instead, the loss of subscribers has more to do with the soured economy and reduced rates by the competition.

CTAM's research, which was conducted by The Nielsen Co., found that 84 percent of the viewers who were watching OTT content on their broadband-enabled TVs were watching the same, or more, regularly scheduled TV.

The study also found that 92 percent of those same entertainment enthusiasts subscribed to a pay-TV service, with only 3 percent reporting future plans to transition from their cable subscription models.

"So far, Chicken Little was wrong," said CTAM President and CEO Char Beales. "It's critical to our business that we deeply understand these evolving behaviors. We've learned that new technologies are providing additional opportunities for viewers to access TV shows and movies, at their convenience. But it's supplementing viewing of regularly scheduled TV, not replacing it."

CTAM said its study is the first to take an in-depth look at the behaviors of this viewing segment and that its findings are contrary to reports that up to 11 percent of Internet-to-TV viewers across the nation are cord cutters. Instead, CTAM refers to this group of viewers as "cord keepers" and not "cord cutters."

"These consumers are feeding their insatiable entertainment appetites by viewing more and more content from the Internet on their TV sets, and they're often viewing shows they might have otherwise missed," said Todd Cunningham, senior vice president of strategic insights and research at MTV Networks and one of the volunteer leaders overseeing this study. "So we're keenly interested in learning about the half of respondents who say they discovered shows by viewing them on the TV via the Internet first, and then sought them out on regularly scheduled TV."


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