According to a report from eMarketer in 2017, 22.2 million U.S. adults will cut the cord on cable, satellite or telco TV service — up 33% over 2016 — the researcher now predicts. This is significantly higher than eMarketer’s prior estimate of 15.4 million cord-cutters for this year. Meanwhile, the number of “cord-nevers” (consumers who have never subscribed to pay TV) will rise 5.8% this year, to 34.4 million.
“Younger audiences continue to switch to either exclusively watching [over-the-top] video or watching them in combination with free-TV options,” said Chris Bendtsen, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer. “Last year, even the Olympics and [the U.S.] presidential election could not prevent younger audiences from abandoning pay TV.”
The bad news for traditional TV does not stop there. According to the report by 2021, the number of cord-cutters will nearly equal the number of people who have never had pay TV — a total of 81 million U.S. adults. That would put cord cutters at around 30% of American adults won’t have traditional pay TV at that point, per eMarketer’s revised forecast.
Paul Verna, eMarketer’s principal analyst, said in a statement that several factors have contributed to the acceleration of cord cutting.
“First, traditional pay TV operators are increasingly developing streaming platforms, such as Dish Network’s Sling TV,” he said. “Second, networks such as HBO and ESPN have launched stand-alone subscription services that allow users to tap those channels without a cable subscription. And third, digital players like Hulu and YouTube are now delivering live TV channels over the internet at reasonable prices—including sports properties that were previously available only through traditional distribution.”
With growth like this, it is no wonder that services and device makers are rushing to find a way to reach out to cord cutters. The only question now is who will win and how will this change the way we watch TV over the next 5 years.
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