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Busting the Cord-Cutting Myth Video in the Interactive Age

1 minute read | June 2010

There’s a growing belief that TV “cord cutting” – when consumers reduce the amount of time they watch TV or drop their digital TV subscriptions altogether and move to viewing video online – is gaining traction. But that myth was busted today at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference, where Howard Shimmel, Senior Vice President, Client Insights, and Jon Gibs, Vice President, Media Analytics for Nielsen, presented research and insights that indicated that cord cutting to date has been limited to very specific demographic segments.

According to Shimmel, shifting to online video mainly appears to be happening in small pockets of the population, including young, emerging households. Households with no cable subscriptions at all, but who subscribe to a broadband service, also reflect a younger population of college graduates and lower to middle income consumers who may not be fully convinced of the need to pay for digital cable. However, Nielsen data shows that these individuals are typically light TV viewers who watch 40% less TV per day than the national average. And while they stream about twice the average amount of video, they still only stream about 10 minutes per day, hardly an indication of a monumental shift to online-only viewing.


There’s no question that marketers and researchers will be eagerly watching this demographic to see whether their viewing habits change over time, but for now the idea of a cord-cutting revolution appears to be purely fiction.

Fast Facts

  • The number of people per month viewing online video increased 6% year-over-year.
  • There was a 9% increase year over year in the amount of time per month people spent online.
  • Online video streaming still only accounts for less than 2.5% of total video consumption across all demographics.
  • Among heavy video streamers 12-34, there are significant shares of time allocated to streaming.

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