Report: One in Four American Families Live Without Cable or Satellite Service

New Edge We’ve long heard tales of those so-called “cord cutters,” bravely living their lives without subscribing to cable or satellite TV service. But recent estimates as to the actual number of these renegades may prove surprising to many.

According to a new study from market research firm GfK, one-fourth of all American TV households do not subscribe to either cable or satellite service.

The GfK study, entitled “2016 Ownership and Trend Report,” finds that 17% of US households rely on broadcast or “over the air” service, up from 15% in 2015. Six percent use only online services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or YouTube, up from 4%. Almost 3% have no TV in their home.

As expected, younger consumers are more likely to be cord cutters: 22% of households that include a resident between 18 and 34 years of age use broadcast only television, and 13% utilize Internet service on their TV set.

Conversely, 82% of households with at least one member age 50 or older subscribes to cable or satellite service, versus 75% of all households.

Looking at economic demographics, broadcast-only reception is more prevalent in households earning under $30,000 per year: 26%, versus 17% for all households. Households with income above $50,000 have higher levels of satellite subscriptions: 27%, compared to 21% overall.

“The fact that a statistically significant increase in broadcast-only reception occurred over just one year may be further proof that the cord-cutting/cord-never phenomenon is accelerating,” said David Tice, senior vice president in GfK’s Media & Entertainment practice. “If you include homes that have no TVs at all—about 3% of all households—then less than three quarters (73%) of US homes continue to have pay TV service, with the attendant implications for all stakeholders—not just the pay TV services themselves, but also networks, content providers, and advertisers.”

The GfK study, part of their Home Technology MonitorTM report series, is based on a survey of 3,009 US households. In addition to television service, participants were asked about their use of mobile devices and computers.

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