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More than a quarter of Americans plan to cut out cable in 2021

A new report has suggested that more than a quarter of US cable TV subscribers are planning to cut the cord by the end of 2021.

According to The Trade Desk, 27% of subscribers plan on ridding themselves of cable this year, up from 15% who cut the cord in 2020 and significantly higher than the approximate 3 percent annual decline reported by eMarketer prior to 2020.

Significant factors contributing to this trend include increased budget pressures, and a broader availability of streaming services which account for 68% of TV viewing versus 28% for traditional TV viewing.

Live sports, once a safe subscription driver for pay TV operators, is also much more flexible in terms of consumption, with 39% of US sports fans now watching events via CTV. Only 30% of the surveys respondents said that live sports was the reason they were maintaining a cable TV subscription, down from 60% nine months ago.

The affordability of streaming services is also a factor in consumer habits. Over 50% of consumers said that they would be unwilling to spend more than US$20 in total per month on streaming services, with viewers more than five times more likely to prefer free or low-cost streaming TV on AVOD services.

Tim Sims, chief revenue officer, The Trade Desk, said: “Covid has accelerated cord-cutting trends that were already underway, to a point where less than 50 percent of US households today have a cable subscription. It’s not because US consumers have fallen out of love with TV, but that there are now more convenient ways of consuming it. That even applies to traditional cable mainstays, such as live sports. As more broadcasters launch and expand their streaming services, these gaps are only going to widen.”

The report also looks into the effect that the shift to CTV consumption is having on ad buying, with linear TV buyers making fewer upfront commitments in 2021 and ad buyers increasingly focusing on CTV marketing.