While there has been a lot of talk about cord cutting lately – that is, cancelling your cable subscription in favor of going Internet TV-only – a new study by Nielsen, commissioned by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) found that only 11% of the U.S. population currently watches “some TV shows and movies from the Internet on their TV sets.” The vast majority of these Internet TV viewers (84%) say that they are still watching the same amount of traditional TV as before and have no plans to cancel their current cable subscriptions.
According to CTAM’s president and CEO Char Beales, viewers are using the Internet to supplement their regular TV viewing and not to replace it. The study also found that those who are streaming TV shows and movies to their TVs often first discovered new shows online.
As much as the CTAM tries to spin these current results as positive, though, the current discussion feels somewhat reminiscent of the debate over the “death of the newspaper.” The CTAM’s study and press release completely ignores that bringing the Internet to your TV was barely worth the hassle until just a few months ago. Now, however, with the arrival Google TV, cheap boxes from Roku and the Boxee Box, bringing the Internet to the living room is getting easier and with online services like Hulu+ and Netflix, getting interesting content to these devices is also pretty straightforward. DVRs are now a standard feature in most households, so switching from time-delayed viewing to online TV is a relatively easy transition for many households, though the fact that a lot of live sporting events and a number of prominent shows aren’t available yet is surely holding some potential cord-cutters back. The CTAM study ended in August. It’ll be interesting to see what these results look like 6 to 12 months from now.