Internet Use: Cord Cutters vs. Cable Subscribers

Severing the attachment from cable TV in lieu of streaming and other antenna- and Internet-based entertainment – also known as “cord cutting” – is a surging trend in entertainment consumption. Beginning in 2007 with the dawn of Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” service, innumerable apps and streaming services arrived to provide solace to those who wanted nothing more than to leave their cable subscriptions behind. Cord Cutters Dice up the Entertainment Market Cord cutters take this route for various reasons, but the main priority is to stop paying for cable subscriptions, equipment, and other fees that provide loads of channels and programming they never watch. In the past seven years, as more subscribers abandoned cable, cable companies sought new ways to entice potential cord cutters to stick around. They won some folks over with deals that come with bundling TV and Internet services, as well as connections to mobile devices for watching cable TV on the go. A Sandvine study reports that subscribers to streaming, alt-cable platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu and iTunes, separate into three categories: cord cutters (top 15th percentile), typical subscribers (15th to 85th percentile) and non-streamers (bottom 15th percentile). The differences in reported Internet usage between cord cutters and typical subscribers especially indicate telling behaviors in a world without (or with less) cable. Internet Use: Cord Cutters vs. Typical Subscribers The Sandvine report labeled the group as cord cutters not because researchers were certain that these participants had entirely “cut the cord” with cable, but because their usage profile suggests that they likely based it on the amount of content and hours they stream. The stark differences between cord cutters and typical subscribers prove the heightened attachment to the Internet for entertainment for cord cutters. For example, cord cutters stream an average of 100 hours per month, a number which may seem high, but between multiple users and devices is not difficult to achieve. Compare 100 hours to only nine hours streamed by the typical subscriber in a month, and the difference is clear. Along with total hours of streaming, cord cutters dominate in mean monthly Internet usage at 212 GB per month versus 29 GB per month for the typical subscriber. These numbers illustrate cord cutters likely consume a majority of their entertainment via streaming services, while typical subscribers may either not consume as much media or divide their time between both streaming and cable, having only “shaved” the cord (cut back on subscriptions), rather than cutting it completely. They may also indicate that cord cutters are more likely to stream their content from mobile devices, which accounts for the many hours they are able to stream in a month—hours not always spent in front of the TV screen itself. Cord cutters’ share of streaming and total network traffic is also telling. While cord cutters take up 72 percent of streaming share, the typical subscriber accounts for only 45 percent. And of total network usage (streaming, browsing, online shopping, downloading documents, etc.), cord cutters end up with 53.9 percent of the pie, while the typical subscriber takes up 45.7 percent. Consider these numbers in regards to the non-streamers, who account for 0.5 percent of total traffic per month. Cord cutters not only dominate streaming data and hours, but once they start streaming, they end up taking up a majority of total Internet usage as well. This points to just how much content people are streaming these days, how long they stream content for and how popular this activity is across the country. The numbers also allude to just how the increase in the number of cord cutters with each passing year. Cable is still an enormous force in home entertainment, but cord cutting is a trend well on its heels. Whether people are cord cutters or typical streaming video subscribers, it’s hard to ignore the effects this movement has on the home entertainment industry and Internet usage as well. [zipfinder]
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Edwin Ivanauskas is constantly obsessing over technology, the industry, and changes in internet connectivity worldwide.

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