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Cord-cutting accelerates in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

July 27, 2020 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

From business model shifts to consumer behavior, the pandemic has accelerated changes in the media business. Many of these shifts were already underway, of course. And it is likely many of these changes are likely here to stay. A new report from Roku confirms that streaming media consumption and binge watching are up. However, while traditional television also experienced a lift during the early months of lockdown, Roku sees an uptick in the trend towards cord cutting and cord shaving.

Roku’s annual study found that approximately 32% of U.S. households don’t have a traditional pay TV subscription. Another 25% of households, which Roku identifies as Cord Shavers, have cut back their service. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, financial woes and concerns about the economy are driving further interest in cord-cutting and cord shaving. Roku reports that 45% of these Cord Shaver households stated they are likely to cut the cord fully in the next six months.

Roku’s 2020 annual Cord-Cutting Study found that:
  • TV audiences are watching more ad-supported content and flocking to extended free trials of subscription services.
  • About half of all TV households surveyed said they are streaming more free-TV during the Covid-19 pandemic than they did before.
  • Binge watching is on the rise in 2020. More Americans say that they regularly stream many episodes back to back in one sitting.
  • Americans say reducing home entertainment expenses is the number one reason for cutting the cord.
  • Despite 28% saying that the loss of live sports prompted them to cut the cord, the majority of Cord Cutter households say that the return of live sports won’t entice them back to traditional pay TV.

Streaming is even more appealing now. Consumers cite convenience, a growing selection of content – including free, ad supported options – and on-demand access as reasons to cut the cord. Around 40% of recent Cord Cutter households shared that free TV or extended free trials to a streaming channel helped convince them to cut the cord. And more households than ever are watching free, ad-supported movies and TV shows. Roku’s research shows that Cord Cutting is accelerating is the U.S., and at a greater pace in 2020 than in previous years – a trend that is not likely to slow even as the economic impacts of the pandemic eventually diminish.

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