In the ’80s, as the song goes, “video killed the radio star.” Then, for a while, some were worried that video–or, television–would diminish the same way by the hands of the Internet.
Well, there’s finally proof that TV might be suffering more and more. About twenty-five percent of US households don’t pay for their cable these days, Variety reports–that’s according to a study the research firm GfK. This so-called “cord cutting” means that television executives from NBC to CBS to ABC and on, who are people meant to be drawing in millions of viewers over the Super Bowl and the Olympics and shows like Scandal, are not getting a quarter of American attention anymore. That, of course, means that these executives are going to be going home every night with a quarter of their pockets empty too.
The GfK’s “Ownership and Trend Report” went on to claim that even less, seventeen percent, even use broadcast signals to switch their shows on; a number even smaller than that, a whopping six percent, will use their television if only to connect the Internet to devices like Apple TV or Roku, using services like Sling or Xfinity TV.
This means that the twenty-five percent slice of Americans who have given abandon to their old Vizio or Sony solely rely on their phone, computer, or tablet to watch streaming services like Netflix or Amazon now. After all, most TV shows find their way to some kind of streaming platform, and some of the best originated there to begin with. This Emmy season, for instance, has awarded Netflix original shows with fifty-five nominations, beating out its direct competitors.
Hulu also regularly adds episodes of various shows within hours of the airing, if not at least by the next day. And so twenty-five percent have slashed TV from their provider’s bills. However, the Hulu deal is not true of all TV shows or even most; without paying for cable, a hefty chunk of programming–and therefore money–is going unnoticed and wasted.
Not everyone sees this as a spark of panic.
David Tice, SVP of GfK, pointed out that this is just one study with one sample. There are other studies that don’t quite show such drastic numbers, and stacked against this one, there’s still plenty of TV-watchers around the country. “I think everyone started panicking five years ago,” he said, but then continued, “it’s only a small slice of homes.”
Only a third of American homes actually subscribe to Netflix, and less to Amazon (sixteen percent) and Hulu (seven percent).
So then who is cutting their cords?
“For people in a younger age group, they’ve grown up with streaming,” said Tice. “It’s something they expect to be able to do. It was perhaps an inevitability that they would become a generation of cord-nevers, particularly after a coming-of-age period in economic turbulence.”
Apparently, millennials who don’t even begin to sign on to cable bills–what Tice called “cord-nevers”–are not the only ones knocking TV off. Older rich individuals are, too, kissing their bigger screens goodbye.
Before too long, Tice believes that Americans will weed TV almost completely out–or at least let the newer technology overshadow it to the point of hobby obsolescence, like TV did to radio.
“Everything plateaus at some level,” he said.