Cord Cutters, Meet the Cord-Nevers

Cord-cutters… we all know who they are. But what about the “cord-nevers?” Who is this new, emerging demographic born to cut the cord? We’ve talked about them for years, actually, starting when the term was coined back in 2013.

So who or what is a cord-never? Well, like the name sounds, these folks basically are those who’ve never had a cable or cord to cut. Statistics suggest that while today’s numbers of cord-nevers are small, it’s likely soon to be a growing population. As with most things, it all comes down to demographics, and cord-nevers are in two separate and distinct age groups. Let’s take a closer look at the people in America who’ve never trifled with the troublesome cable TV.

Millennial Cord-Nevers
At one end of the cord-never spectrum are the Millennials. This group grew up in the age of the Internet and have come to expect their entertainment needs to be met digitally. This group might look at cable the same way that Generation X came to look at TV antennas – as antiquated devices in need of replacing. Millennial cord-nevers prefer streaming. Chances are, it started in their childhood homes, where many opted to watch their favorite shows on their tablets and phones.

Today, about four out of ten homes with an 18- to 34-year-old resident rely upon broadcast-only or Internet-only alternatives. This is according to GfK’s 2016 Ownership and Trend Report from The Home Technology Monitor™. The recent study by the GfK suggests that cord-nevers could be a growing trend among today’s 18-34 age group:

  • TV households with a resident between 18 and 34 years old are more likely to choose alternatives to cable and satellite;
  • 22 percent of these homes use broadcast-only reception, compared to 17 percent of all US households;
  • 13 percent only watch an Internet service on their TV sets, compared to six percent of all TV homes;
  • and 38 percent of households headed by someone aged 18-to-34 households rely upon some type of alternative TV reception or video source, compared to 25 percent of all homes.

Note: GfK’s report surveyed 3,009 U.S. households, including non-TV, non-Internet, and cell-phone-only homes, among other defining factors.

This isn’t the first study to talk about Millennial cord-nevers, though; among others is the study we commented on back in 2015 that said up to half of Millennials will never have a traditional pay service.

Older Cord-Nevers
There’s another group of cord-nevers and it’s at the opposite end of the age spectrum. There is a group of people over the age of 50 who were used to getting their TV over the air so they simply continued to do so. The 50+ cord-nevers might be a smaller group than the Millennial cord-nevers, since there’s a good chance the older folks have had cable and/or satellite TV services during some point in their lives.

A Matter of Economy
Cord-cutting just got a bit more interesting with the recognition of the cord-never crowd. Chances are good that the Millennial portion of this demographic will continue to seek out new and innovative streaming opportunities. Many might not be aware of true cord-cutting using a TV antenna. Millennials could be an untapped market of TV antenna users. Coming of age at a time where wages are static amid growing living costs, Millennials might try TV antennas for the free HDTV.

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.