Turns Out TV Cord Cutters Are, In Fact, Young, Educated And Employed

from the ain't-the-economy dept

So you remember how the cable folks were saying that all those people ditching cable TV were doing it because of the bad economy, and rather than young, tech-savvy early adopters — they were old poor folks living on dog food? Yeah, so it turns out: not so much. A new study shows that they actually tend to be younger, well-educated, fully-employed and make a decent amount of money. Can’t wait to see how the TV folks talk themselves out of this one…

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Comments on “Turns Out TV Cord Cutters Are, In Fact, Young, Educated And Employed”

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KGWagner (profile) says:

No surprise

What did they think, that old, disadvantaged and/or financially challenged folks can afford high-speed broadband, but not TV? Those would be the very people who aren’t switching, if they’ve even got cable TV service to begin with.

The degree to which the entertainment industry can engage in self-delusion never ceases to amaze me. I mean, it shouldn’t even take 5 seconds thought, let alone polls or studies for this kind of data to be clear. I wonder if they have to do a poll every day to find out if gravity still exists?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: No surprise

“The degree to which the entertainment industry can engage in self-delusion never ceases to amaze me.”

This is the way we have always done thing.
Things will never change.
That means nothing its because of “xxxxxxx”.
Its their fault, not ours.

The Innovator’s Dilemma, cyclical 5 stages of grieving (this one is really cool because the group is so large and maintains the group), rationalization, denial, placing blame with everyone but with themselves, ignoring anything that doesn’t fit in their own view of the world. Its all over the content industry. What you are seeing is the failure of a belief system. Hence all the border line madness and anger.

Evan (profile) says:

Re: How?

Depends on the service provider. Alot of them will bundle things to make it “more” appealing, however, they still offer the single services.
For example, my wife and I are the young, well-educated, financially stable people that apparently the cable companies think are paying the astronomical prices for their services. But we ended up saving over $130/month by switching to just Comcasts High-speed internet. We “cut-the-cord” 5 months ago and haven’t looked back. Now if there was only a way to get rid of Comcast as the service provider……


Re: How? Just ask.

Cable TV companies that offer ISP services have always allowed people to buy those services ala carte. The only difference is that you get a small discount for bundling. This usually ends up being something like $10 per month.

So I pay an extra $10 per month on my cablemodem bill to use the cable service of my choice.

My TV antenna will allow me to “cut the cord” before my broadband service does.


Re: Yup

Paying one big bill certainly makes the whole thing seem far less palatable than otherwise. I think “bundling” here is a big mistake that will backfire on Big Cable badly.

One reason I don’t want to buy such a “bundle” is the sticker shock and complaining I will get should my spouse ever see that unified bill.

j647 (profile) says:

Count me in

Cut the cord this week. Between hulu, netflix and over the air (picture on local channels is just as good) I have more tv then I need. I got no football games this weekend and it seemed to be a 3-day weekend with all the time I had! Switched to DLS and have had no problem with speed. $65 month (old time phone and internet) as opposed to $160 (cable, phone and internet) is a no-brainer.

The day after I switched,the cable company called and offered me a better deal. I told them no but didn’t get the specifics. The day after that, they came and did something to the box outside. I had already turned in the hardware.

Josh says:

Been there, done that

I cut the cord years ago and now survive on local channels and whatever I can get on the internet. My 3 kids have never known cable, except in hotels on vacation. They rarely gripe about it, because they can can most of their shows direct from channel websites etc. No Hulu here in Canada. 🙁 Phone plus internet now cost me only $50 per month, compared to over $100 when I cut the cord, and likely close to $150 if I were to reconnect it today. The value for money just isn’t there, not when I can get 80% of the content for free, and spend my time doing more productive things than watching TV.

darryl says:

From a less than 0.00001 sample size.

Yeah, so it turns out: not so much. A new study shows that they actually tend to be younger, well-educated, fully-employed and make a decent amount of money.

So young, well-educated, fully-employed and make a ‘decent’ amount of money, would not be concerned or feel the effects of the economic downturn, and that would be a big reason people are not spending as much descretionary money recently.

WOW a survey of 2000 Americans !!!! from a population of 250-300 Million. !!

You think that is our could possibly be considered a representative sample size ?

But if the US population was ONLY 200 million, the same of 2000 represents a sample size of..

0.00001% of the population.

Basically means its totally meaningless. but for 2 reasons this time..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: From a less than 0.00001 sample size.

If you are speaking of ball bearings (which do not lie cheat steal, and have opinions) and quality control you are right a small sample size may be representative.

But! If you are speaking of people who do lie, cheat, steal, and do have opinions then your sample size needs to be large enough to cancle these actions out.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: From a less than 0.00001 sample size.

You think that is our could possibly be considered a representative sample size ?

Two things:

1. Learn some stats and find out what “representative sample” actually means before making yourself look more foolish.

2. The population they are sampling is not the “entire population of the US,” but the much smaller population of cord cutters.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: From a less than 0.00001 sample size.

No no no, rookie mistake.

For a proper rant, what you should have pointed out is that under 40 isn’t exactly “young”. I mean, would you call someone who is 25 a young person? He’s a quarter of a century old. Some Pharaos didn’t LIVE that long.

And what about well educated? How many PhD’s do those “young people” have? What about Nobel prizes? Pathetic.

And finally, the fully employed part. Please. I bet they don’t even work 24 hours a day. And in the odd chance that anyone might, I doubt they even work nights (an average of 37 hours per day+night is the minimum acceptable).

See, my rant is much more comprehensive, and, therefore, much stupider than yours. I hope you learned your lesson.

(incidentally, 2000 people out of 200 million is 0,000001% of the population)

SomeGuy (profile) says:

Re: From a less than 0.00001 sample size.

“You think that is our could possibly be considered a representative sample size ?”

Statistically speaking, yes it could. You don’t get a representative sample based on the SIZE of the sample, it’s based on the COMPOSITION of the sample. As long as the demographics of that 2000-person sample matched the same distribution as the US poulation, statistics allows us to make inferences from the smaller to the larger. You might want to argue that they had some kind of a bias (if, for example, they had 2000 20-somethings, and no one over the age of 40), but that information isn’t apparent from the article.

What the 2000 number tells us is the amount of error to expect; larger samples (assuming everything else is done right) produce more precise results. It’s been a while since I last had a stats class, but I think a sample of 2000 gives you a confidence of about plus or minus 1%. So maybe only 53% of likely cord cutters are under 40, for example.

Adam Wasserman (profile) says:

Re: From a less than 0.00001 sample size.

This sample size is actually twice the size of what Gallup uses for a national poll.

Gallup uses a 1000 person sample population and that gives them plus or minus 4% accuracy.

On top of which, as Mike points out, this poll is not a poll of the entire US adult population like a Gallup Poll is.

So yes, this survey is considered very meaningful and accurate.

Dean Landolt (profile) says:

"living on dog food"?

Come on Mike, you’re better than that. You’re clearly taking the “dog’s breakfast” quote completely out of context…

“The reality is it’s someone who’s 40 years old and poor and settling for a dog’s breakfast of Netflix and short-form video.”

I don’t know where the “40 years old and poor” comes from (sounds like the typical shill bs) but be fair — even if you don’t completely buy the “dog’s breakfast” part you could at least represent it fairly.

And as someone’s who’s cut the cord more than once (and yes, I’m young, educated and employed) I have to admit that while I’m plenty happy with my entertainment options online my girlfriend would probably agree with the dog’s breakfast characterization. Needless to say we have cable again, at least for now.


Re: Shop Smarter

In all likelihood, it’s the young hipsters that have the know how to cut the cord without suffering for it. Between broadcast, Netflix, Amazon and iTunes you can make most of what’s offered on cable moot. You can also do it for less.

Cable can be expensive. It’s really not that hard to come up with something that suits your particular needs for less. Cable is one of the poster boys for forced bundling. It’s really not that hard to do better “ala carte”.

It may not work for everyone, but it’s bound to work for quite a lot of people.

“Cutting the cord” may also not be so much about “being cheap” but “being in control”. My own approach to cable and “non-cable” is about “being in control”.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:


Someone already mentioned it, but I think it needs to be said again. The cable companies should not think that the cord cutters are poor and not worth considering. In a lot of cases the cord cutters are their existing broadband customers. I mean, just how did they think these cord cutters were bypassing cable? Maybe they are so used to people pirating cable they just apply the same thinking to cord cutters.

I recently showed my 75 year old father project free tv, and I don’t think he’s spent much time watching cable since. He’s also become aware of Hulu and Google Voice, and can’t believe the “new technology”. Basically the only thing that is saving cable TV model is the content they can still be the gatekeepers for, AND a lack of awareness / technophobia in the general population.

The Cable and Phone companies have been looking for the elusive Quadruple Play Service ( voice, TV, broadband, wireless ), but it looks like they should focus now on maximizing the Double Play (Broadband and Wireless).

tetron (profile) says:

Comcast will get its pound of flesh either way

My wife and I are professionals in our early 30s and have certainly given cable the boot in favor of Hulu and Netflix. For me it is a lifestyle thing since normal TV channels are always on and encourage you to leave the TV on for hours and hours blasting commercials into your home, whereas watching shows online is more deliberate, you are watching something you are specifically interested in and you are not bombarded with nearly as much advertising.

So yes, they are trying to make it out to be that dropping cable is “not cool”, but from my perspective in fact it is exactly the young, technically savvy, high disposable income demographic that is deciding to drop cable in favor of media with a higher signal:noise ratio.

Of course, since canceling cable Comcast has jerked us around on the rate for internet service and sent pleeding packages to our door begging us to re-subscribe at cheaper rates then we were paying before.

Comcast is a perfect case study of pricing in monopoly conditions; they basically only offer three services (TV internet, VOIP phone) but they slice and dice the rate you actually pay based on what package you have, they charge an arm and a leg extra for HD service, the advertised prices only apply if you are a new subscriber, if not you pay a higher price, they’ll only lower your rates if you threaten to quit…

BoloMKXXVIII (profile) says:

Comcast deserves what it gets

I can’t wait to see Comcast file for bankruptcy. Their head-in-the-sand attitude will only hasten their demise. I dumped them a year ago when I complained about the quality of the service and too high price. They basically told me tough luck, just deal with it and pay the bill. I told them goodbye and with OTA, Hulu, Clicker, Miro and Netflix/Roku I have more than I could ever watch.

qyiet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Bogus Backpedaling

No. When most people hear “dog’s breakfast” they think Alpo. They don’t think “muddle”.
Pretty sure that more people think “muddle” given that I had to google “Alpo”.

Urban Dictionary has a clear definition for you, and notes that usage occors less frequently in the US and commonly used in almost every other country that uses english as a primary language. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dog's+breakfast

Anonymous Coward says:


Being over 60, I must be the odd ball here. Don’t own a tv anymore. Cut the cord 8 years ago. Not going back to the PPV either.

I’ve had it with poor choices of shows, innumerable reruns, and with the idea that the show is the excuse to run commercials. I’ve gotten to where I can’t stand and thoroughly despise a commercial.

We won’t even go into the gouging being done by the show originators and rebroadcast parts. I don’t miss the $100 bills; instead I’ve found other uses for both the time wasted as well as the money. Nor with the attitude of the PPV’s you are a cash cow and undeserving of notice nor service once you’ve paid up.

I’ve never looked back on the cord cutting with anything other than the glee it’s allowed me to bypass all the hassles and aggravations.

Jonathan L. (user link) says:

We've had hi-speed internet and no cable for years...

My two cents: My wife and I (in Austin, TX – with Time/Warner cable) have been getting high-speed internet without cable TV for many years now. In fact, thinking on it, we’ve been without TV for at least 7 years now – predating our switch from modem to cable.

As is asserted by the article, we’re educated and employed. We switched of the boob tube feed simply because we wanted less crazy invading our home and more time to do things we like to do instead of sitting and watching mindless drivel. Sure we’re saving money, but that’s a side benefit. We’ve never been remotely close to eating dog food. =)

At any rate, life without TV is much nicer than life with it.

Overcast (profile) says:

I cut my cable for quite some time… went with NetFlix.

The cable company came back offering me a real good deal – so I took it, but I’m tempted to just go back with NetFlix again.

Thing is; I don’t care for all the 30/60 minute ‘episode’ type of TV shows, like 24, CSI, Survivor, or whatever. I don’t care to keep up with the drama or whatever – because by and large it’s pretty unoriginal.

I like movies from time to time and even not a whole lot of that. It puts me in a position where NetFlix is a better deal. Otherwise, if it wasn’t for the History Channel and a few other similar shows – I definitely wouldn’t have cable.

But overall – by and large the reason I *don’t* watch as much TV is the blasted commercials. I feel like I’m just watching advertisements most of the time and not the show. My attention span can get short on a lot of shows – because they just aren’t that interesting.

PopeHilarius (profile) says:

I’m just one person, but I reflect the findings of this study. I’m a young, college-educated professional- and Hulu and Netflix are how I watch TV (well, and pirated streaming, if something isn’t on those two). I know many people my age doing the same.

In college, I cut the cord to save money. I got used to Hulu. After I got a job, I had television for a year and didn’t find it worth the price. I want to watch whatever I want and whenever I want and I couldn’t stomach following programming schedules or having to set up DVR. I’m pretty happy with my current setup.

progrocktv (profile) says:

Yea, but....

That’s all fine and dandy that many people are cutting the cord and jumping over to internet alternatives like Hulu and Netflix streaming, however I’ll bet the next step for the cable companies who also offer internet, will be imposing ridiculous metered billing, bandwidth caps and overage fees to make up the difference of lost cable revenue. Sure you ditched cable but those Netflix streams will start costing you more than cable did. Time Warner got a huge customer backlash when they tried this but it’s just a matter of time before someone tries it again and sticks to their guns.

NullOp says:


There is some good programming on TV in general. But for the most part TV really stinks! Admittedly the programmers only put on what people will watch which speaks loads about the average person. The really sad thing about TV is it could have been the most powerful educational tool ever devised. Instead it’s used to sell feminine hygiene products during the dinner hour!


Re: TV

TV without a PVR in front of it is pretty miserable. We were nearly ready to cut the cord 10 years ago before the Tivo came out. Had we not gotten a Tivo back in the day, we would have cut the cord then. Tivo pretty much saved TV in our household.

I suspect a lot of cord cutters are people that never had Tivo rescue their TV viewing experience. Perhaps they even tried an inferior provider bundled PVR and found the experience lacking.

A good PVR does a lot to rescue the value of cable.


Re: TV

TV without a PVR in front of it is pretty miserable. We were nearly ready to cut the cord 10 years ago before the Tivo came out. Had we not gotten a Tivo back in the day, we would have cut the cord then. Tivo pretty much saved TV in our household.

I suspect a lot of cord cutters are people that never had Tivo rescue their TV viewing experience. Perhaps they even tried an inferior provider bundled PVR and found the experience lacking.

A good PVR does a lot to rescue the value of cable.

Tom says:

Dont have cable? Get a PS3!

I too am a young tech savvy married man. I download anything I want and it wirelessly downloads to my ps3. Anybody that comes over is extremely jealous escpecially when i tell them its all free except the internet. I watch movies a month or two before they come on video. If u like tv shows u can get the whole season commercial free. I cut three cord three years ago and couldn’t imagine going back.I can watch whatever i want. The best part was telling Charter Cable to stick it. I have to pay an extra $10 for internet just because i don’t have T.V. service. But Im saving alot. I figured the money I saved this year paid for my laptop and ps3. This is how you stick it to service providers.

ts says:

I haven’t paid for cable in 2 years.. and I’m a 30 year old computer programmer making plenty of money to afford it. I do have a TV tuner in my PC, so I can watch/record network stations for free. The day cable companies quit bundling so much crap together, I might consider going back. I just don’t see the point in paying for 200 stations when I only want 10.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Lucky! My wife can’t imagine a world without cable at the moment. We’re in the same boat, young, educated and making good money. The problem we find ourselves in is we live in Canada and we don’t have nearly the same online viewing options that you folks do in the US.

No Hulu, Netflix is gimped. All that we have really is crappy TV station streaming options. She isn’t willing to dump cable for an HTPC just yet. Oh, we’ve also already got plenty of metered broadband as well. Trying to stay legal is getting harder by the day!

Options are nice.

darryl says:

Did you READ the actual report Mike ?? I thought not...

If I have to go and learn statistics Mike, mabey you should go out and learn what a “dogs breakfast” is !!!.

If you believe that is ‘having to eat pet food’, then you sir are a fool..

And im sorry, for my error,,

0.000001% population sample. BTW why is the actual report behind a PAYWALL, and all we get is a summary..


“97% serveyed were EMPLOYED, OR a STUDENT, OR RETIRED”

Yes, smart, I could probably say

“100% of those surveyed were either Male OR female”.

So clearly its not a representative servay, as 97% of those surveyed were employed, or a STUDENT or RETIRED.

So unless you only have a 3% unemployment rate, it is a FALSE survey.

So who did they contanct for the survey, a BUSINESS, a SCHOOL and a RETIREMENT HOME.

So to say most were empolyed and ‘young’, how do you get that from the information presented in your linked article.

(we cant see the actual report, and neither can Mike), so Mike is happy to comment on reports that he has not even read..

So if you do a survey of a school, a business and a retirement home, and you ask 2000 different people from those groups, you would expect the figures you got.

But if you did not survey any unemployed people, (you have about a 9% unemployment in the US).

So its clear and obvious that this survey is BULLSHIT,

Because if it was representative it would reflect reality, it would reflect that there is a 9% unemployment, and it does not. I shows less than 3% unemployment..

WRONG, false, and a lie… Perfect for Techdung

darryl says:

You fed us this dogs breaikfast Mike, are we expected to swallow it ?

Seriously. At least that’s the argument being made by one of the cable industry’s favorite talking heads, who tries to minimize the cord cutters by saying they’re “poor” people who “eat a dog’s breakfast.”

That is a classic Mike.. LOL LOL LOL…

How to take a statement, and get it COMPLETELY WRONG on EVERY ACCOUNT, and from your actions, you have created an entire false story, and not contributed a single viable or honest inputs..

Lets see..

What was the original statement, that prompted you to claim people were eating dog food?

What did you say ?

they were old poor folks living on dog food? Yeah, so it turns out: not so much.

Yes, it does turn out to be “not so much” right Mike.. if you are honest..



Ever had a dog ?? ever watched it eat ? what happens ? it plunges it’s nose right in, food goes everywhere, its a real MESS. Its a DOGS BREAKFAST.. thats right a real mess.

Like this article.. So you mike are feeding us a “dogs breakfast” of an article. its all over the place, its a real mess. Its a dog breakfast.

Dogs breakfast = SNAFU = Cluster fuck or a messy house, or a confusing mess..

GET IT ?? I guess not..

Anyway, what was the original statement that led you to make the statement that its ” old poor folks living on dog food?


Mr. Moffett said the image of the cord-cutter had been that of a ?cutting-edge technologist? who preferred to bypass cable to watch programming on computers and on an ever-proliferating array of devices. ?The reality is it?s someone who?s 40 years old and poor and settling for a dog?s breakfast of Netflix and short-form video.?

So from that you worked out that is “old folks living on dog food”.

SHAME Mike, for being such a bald faced lier.. I mean really, its not Lucky Dog, they are eating its

Netflix and short-form video !!!!.. wonder what that tastes like ?

So Mike, im sorry, but you have zero credability, you show over and over again, that you cannot speak the truth if you have a gun to your head. And you will and DO say whatever you want, to ‘prove’ you argument regardless of the truth.

And If you are SO out of touch with the real world that you think poor people resort to eating dog food to survive, you need to get outside of that basement of yours, and find out that there is a REAL world beyond your doors. Have a look at what you consider the “lower class” people are doing. Find out what actually happens to poor people.

But if you are so ignorant that you think poor people are eating dog food, you Sir are a fool.. Sorry but you have to be.. how else could you be so stupid ?

So you’ll basically say anything for impact, you’ll completely misinterpret statements for your own ego and gains.

You Mike are the classic dogs breakfast.

You also need to get out a bit more, and find out what a dogs breakfast is, you claim to know business and review business plans, if so how can you NOT know what a dogs breakfast is Mike… That is AMAZING.. I really cannot believe that you are that ignorant ?? are you.. ??

ILikeAlpo says:

dog's breakfast

Other people have said this, but I just feel it’s worth repeating: the original article said people are “settling for a dog’s breakfast of Netflix and short-form video”.

Translation: “people are settling for a random muddle of content”, not “these people eat dog food for breakfast”.

Seriously, this is embarassing, Mike. Please fix your post.

darryl says:

It is embarassing very true.. but telling too..

Yes, it seems Mike is willing to embrass himself at will. without even trying !!.. But he’s dig himself too deep now to make sensible comment. This is just icing on the cake.

That is totally apart from the fact that the report that he refers too is (apart from behind a paywall), clearly inaccurate, and misleading.

Its too small a sample size, and its clear they did not sample a broad demographic.

Sure, Mike if you DO NOT ask unemployed people the question, but you only ask employed people then you wuold draw the WRONG conclusion that the majority of cable cutters are young and employed.

(that is because they asked young and employed people).

If it was at all accurate and a fair community sample it would reflect reality would it not ??

ANd reality in the US is not 3% unemployment, I believe its more like 3 times that figure.. ie 9%.

So they are stating there clearly that they did not do a balanced survey, it says that they only spoke to 1 third of unemployed people compared to students, workers, and retired.

Thats why this entire article is a dogs breakfast. Its a muddle, a mess, a SNAFU.

It’s the mess your dog makes when ITS eating ITS breakfast..

Also, again, if you are that out of touch with the ‘underclass’ or ‘what the poor people are doing’ that you think dog food is cheaper than people food. Then that is embarassing, But I have pitty for you that you are so insular to think or to make such assumptions..

All so you can get some purile point across..

TheOldFart (profile) says:

I claim weirdest

I haven’t had an antenna or cable TV since 1993.

I could not handle the “infomercials” where such obvious sleight of hand is used to make products look “miraculous” and where obvious scams are peddled to idiots as “valuable services” (e.g. “refinance your house now for 250% of its value…”)

I’ve never regretted pulling the plug… never really even noticed it. I got remarried a while back and I had made plans to finally get satellite TV for the wife because she enjoyed watching TV, but she said no, she’d try “the lifestyle” (got to love an adventurous woman!)

Coming up on two years now and she’s a convert with no effort or pressure on my part. She reads more (and enjoys that immensely) and if there is a good TV series she likes she just buys the whole season on DVD when it becomes available.

If cable/satellite companies offered a la carte service at a reasonable price, I’d consider it.

In the meantime, the $900 to $1,000 a year that I’ve saved on cable bills over the last 17 years has built a pretty good DVD collection. Even blowing half the cost of cable on DVDs every month gets a lot of good quality entertainment, particularly if you simply wait a couple of months for the big boxed sets to show up online in used but perfectly usable condition for 1/4 the price of new.

Let’s see, I can pay a high price monthly to watch sleazy and in some cases outright fraudulent ads and get 20 channels of unwanted shit just to get one decent channel that has one or two decent programs a week, or I can sit down at my computer with a fresh cup of tea and surf the net for something I like and then click on ‘buy’ but only if I feel the price is right. Tough choice.

If only they’d sell me a downloadable, non-DRM’ed version of the content I’d probably buy 4x as many programs as I do. I really dislike the idea of pissing away oil to make and ship the DVDs, so I tend to only buy the ones I know for sure I’ll want to keep for a lifetime*

(*lifetime means until I croak. It does not mean “until they take their DRM servers down” or “until they figure out how to make it not play on my existing DVD drive” or “until they stop supporting that particular format on the next version of Windows”)

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