Adult millennials came of age in a world replete with media options. It is second nature for them to exercise personal choice and program their own media day—even to see themselves as “co-creators” of their media environment, according to a new eMarketer report, “Millennials’ Media Usage: What’s Distinctive, What’s Not and What Matters Most.”
The proliferation of digital video has raised the specter of large-scale “cord-cutting” by millennials. The plausible premise is that millennials get so much video online that they see little incentive to pay for cable or satellite service or for premium channels. However, buzz about this topic has gotten ahead of changes that may someday manifest in actual behavior.
Millennials are indeed more likely than their elders to forgo pay TV services, as one would expect of people who have tight budgets and the technological savvy to access tons of free online video. But they have yet to cut those cords en masse. November 2013 polling from Verizon Digital Media Services found 13% of millennials making do without any pay TV service—a higher number than for nonmillennials (9%), but not high in absolute terms.
Still, there is some basis for the perception that millennials want to spend less for TV service. An Altman Vilandrie & Company survey in July 2013 found that 47% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 40% of 25- to 34-year-olds spent less on cable due to the availability of digital video. (One caveat: People sometimes profess a greater frugality than they really practice.)
Ipsos MediaCT polling from October 2013 gave a sense of the mixed state of play on this issue. While fewer than one in 10 millennials identified themselves as cord-cutters or “cord-nevers,” about three in 10 said they had reduced pay service within the six months before being queried.
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