Full Video Cord Cutting Remains Relatively Rare, So Far

Just 55 percent of Millennials use TVs as their primary video entertainment viewing platform, according to a research study sponsored by NATPE and Consumer Electronics Association.

On the other hand, only about 2.7 percent of U.S. households (across every age group) actually do not buy a linear video subscription service, but do buy high speed access, considered to be an indication those households are reliant solely on streaming video services.

As you might expect, Millennials (in this case defined as those 13 to 34) are significantly more likely to consume full-length TV programs from a streaming source (84 percent streamed in the past six months) than live TV programming at its original air time (54 percent), or recorded content from a DVR (33 percent).

About half of Millennials say they watch TV programming on a laptop, and for 19 percent, it’s their preferred TV viewing screen.  About 28 percent watch television on a tablet and 22 percent on a smartphone.  

While 90 percent of all TV viewers say they watch on a television set, about 85 percent of Millennials say they do so. But some would argue full video cord cutting remains relatively rare.

But challenges keep coming.

Dish Network, at long last, is launching a $20-a-month TV streaming service that notably includes ESPN and 11 other channels.

Sling TV is the first stand-alone streaming service that does not require a prior subscription to a linear video service, and importantly will include ESPN. That matters because, up to this point, live sports programming has been known as a “firewall” against greater cord cutting. Pre-recorded video is available from the major streaming services and from some of the networks directly.

But live sports have been unavailable in a streaming service. So ESPN will provide a major test of live sports exclusivity on linear subscription services, and the ability of live sports to glue subscribers to linear video.

Sling TV will offer live feeds of sports, news and scripted shows on TVs, computers and mobile devices, with programming  from ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, ABC Family, Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel as part of the 12-channel package.

But, so far, no broadcast TV networks or the most-watched cable news channel, Fox News, are part of the package.

The $20 Sling TV base package features add-on packs with additional kids and news programming, available for $5 each.

Most observers would say a package including the major local TV networks plus sports and perhaps HBO is the likeliest candidate for a winning, but stripped-down, streaming package. So the Sling TV will not be a full test of that thesis.

So far, linear video, as a business, has only plateaued, and begun what looks like the declining part of its life cycle. The real shift is yet to arrive.
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