Front Office by Mary Collins

Gen Y's Latest Trend: Cord Cutting

A growing number of young adults born between 1980 and 1995 — Gen Y — are purchasing over-the-air antennas to watch television programming. Gen Ys are inherently more adept at, and prone to, experimenting with alternative forms of viewing TV content; they are less likely to accept the need to subscribe to subscription-based pay TV once they’re free to make their own decisions about it.

We’ve been hearing that off-air antennas are making a comeback. But what we may find surprising is that it’s not the generation that grew up with them who’s buying.  A growing number of young adults born between 1980 and 1995 — Gen Y — are purchasing over-the-air (OTA) television equipment to watch television programming.

That’s one of the findings of a research study entitled Must Choose TV: What Gen Y thinks about Pay TV and Cord Cutting conducted by Ideas & Solutions! Inc. The results of the study were shared by Glen L. Friedman, the firm’s president and founder, during a recent conference call with members of MFM’s Cable and TV committees. Friedman knows the subscription industry well. The 25-year veteran has worked with and for companies involved in satellite radio, cable programming and broadband Internet. 

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His firm’s research set out to test the notion that, rather than being a phenomenon tied to a poor economy, the number of cord cutters, cord shavers or cord nevers would continue to grow even once things got better.

The growing use of OTA antennas by members of Gen Y who have cut the cord is just one of the findings that struck me from Friedman’s summary of his firm’s research. Following are a few others that I think you’ll agree are worth sharing:

When it comes to their cord-cutting behavior, young adults typically fall into one of four profiles. Thirty-three percent are what the Ideas & Solutions! study calls Loyalists. They have not considered cutting the cord. Loyalists prefer bundled content and they like having their viewing options in one place. 

This group is generally older, has a higher income and its members are more likely to be out of school and more settled into their living situations. They tend to spend more time watching TV than interacting with online content and they have less Wi-Fi access.They also prefer HDTV programming, watching sports and/or reality programming, event TV and scripted TV shows. In addition, they are more interested in watching TV in real time and they like the “stumble factor” that they can experience from a cable subscription, which allows them to discover shows through channel surfing and searching.

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Twenty-nine percent are characterized as Leaners. While they are undecided about cutting the cord, 55% of Leaners report having already considered it. Almost half of this group says they would choose a la carte entertainment options if the costs were the same as subscription pay TV.

This group is also more conversant with technology and alternate media options. They are less settled than Loyalists, representing a mix of living situation, income and work/study schedules. Compared to their peers, leaners appear to be more interested in convenience and control than in features or cost benefits.

Eighteen percent are what Ideas & Solutions! Inc. calls At Risk. This segment of Gen Y has the highest potential to cut the cord, entirely or in part. Most of them have already considered cutting their subscriptions and they prefer to consume content a la carte. Many of the individuals who are most at risk of cutting the cord watch less TV than their peers, already watch video content online and are more likely to own an iPad, have a Wi-Fi connection and subscribe to Netflix.

In addition, they are more likely to view cable TV as a luxury and are overall more cost-conscious. While they find cable TV is entertaining and convenient, they also view it as being expensive and wasteful. Many of these respondents also expressed negative perceptions of cable. From a lifestyle perspective, they are more likely to live alone and work or study in the evenings, leaving less time for TV.

The remaining 20% are called Non-subscribers. According to Friedman’s research, one in five members of Gen Y falls into what he calls the Evaders or Defectors category. As you might suspect, Evaders are those who have never purchased subscription-based pay TV and Defectors are former subscribers who have cut the cord.

Gen Ys are inherently more adept at, and prone to, experimenting with alternative forms of viewing TV content; they are less likely to accept the need to subscribe to subscription-based pay TV once they’re free to make their own decisions about it.

A cost versus value equation plays a pivotal role in determining whether Gen Y’s will pay for cable or satellite service, athough freedom of choice does play a part.

Online services such as Netflix and Hulu, supplemented with TV network websites and digital antennas appear to provide sufficient content for many to cut the cord. The research found that nearly 50% of At Risks use Netflix and Hulu.  While the group categorized as At Risk by the research stands at 22% of total pay TV subscribers, they represent 30% of the universe of Netflix and Hulu users. 


Comments (13) -

Nugacious1 Nickname posted over 6 years ago
Guess I'm a Defector!
Mickie Nickname posted over 6 years ago
Cable has turned into an endless sea of sleaze with Sister Wives, Kardasians, Toddler’s and Tiaras, Ax Men, Dog Bounty Hunter and on and on. . Here’s a fact from Nielsen, that’s worth a story: . In all of the 2010-2011 TV season, other than a few ESPN football games, there was not one cable program--let me repeat that--not 1 cable program--that appeared in the top 100 TV Programs. (Source: The Nielsen Company, 9/20/10-5/25/11; Programming under 25 min. excluded; Ranked by AA% (ratings); in the event of a tie, impressions (000’s) are used as a tiebreaker.)
boisemedia Nickname posted over 6 years ago
The generally excepted term is millennial - not "Gen Y." And even if for some stretch that was right - the word "generation" would be spelled out.
Snap Nickname posted over 6 years ago
Millennials are 1995 on, and since the oldest of them are 17, they don't count yet. Generation Y was 80-95, and I'm a oldster in Generation X (65-80).
PhillyPhlash Nickname posted over 6 years ago
Over the air DTV is addressable -- that is, authorities who know the chip registration number of individual sets or DVT converters can control access to specific channels, or even override commercial signals in the event of an "emergency" (use of quotes sardonic). I have re-scanned and then I receive strong signals from certain channels -- and then, the desired channel disappears and I get the "no signal" on-screen message. Circumstantial evidence and other research leads this journalist to conclude that a major military "cyber security" contractor has operational command and control of this mechanism and is maliciously interfering with over the air TV reception of so-called "targeted individuals" -- many targeted for their politics, backgrounds, or for reasons of blind hate. Or maybe operatives are being paid off by the big fish to limit access to competing channels.) There is evidence that this entity is using broadcast DTV to deliver subfrequencies that cause physical discomfort, even pain, to "targeted" families. Before you dismiss this journalist's conclusions, read these two articles:
TVEng Nickname posted over 6 years ago
Are you high?
PhillyPhlash Nickname posted over 6 years ago
I aim high and on target.
formergm Nickname posted over 6 years ago
Wow! You are a sick puppy Philly.
PhillyPhlash Nickname posted over 6 years ago
It is your apparent military contractor blog-spamming that is sick -- and a fraud on U.S. taxpayers.
Arthur Greenwald posted over 6 years ago
Focusing again on the actual topic of this commentary, the studies cited suggest that broadcasters have an opportunity to leverage renewed interest in over-the-air reception to maintain or even grow viewership, at least among the "Gen Y" demographic. That's only going to happen with new and targeted promotional efforts to drive these viewers to specific shows. In effect, broadcasters should also push the notion that Netflix is for cable.
posted over 6 years ago
Why would you push Netflix to cable?
Kyle Moulder posted over 6 years ago
I have to agree that TV Network sites with free episodes make it a lot easier to 'cut the cord', and now sites like are making it even easier to access the network content by bringing it all to one place. It's tough to justify paying a monthly subscription when you can easily get most of the same content online for free online.
Kyle Moulder posted over 6 years ago
*the same content for free online.
Marketshare Blog Playout Blog




Overnights, adults 18-49 for June 20, 2018
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Source: Nielsen


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