Pay TV “Defectors” Outnumber Those Who Want More TV Service

Almost one-third of all US consumers, over 70 million people are thinking of making changes to their paid TV service, with pay-TV “Defectors“ more than twice as common as “Desirers” of more TV service.

These are among the findings of a new GfK MRI report, “Cord Evolution,” that details consumers’ use of both traditional and streaming TV services. The study also includes in-depth profiles of 10 groups on the “cord spectrum”, from Cord Nevers and Cord Cutting Regretters to Cord Loyalists and Cord Returners.

Four of the cord groups fall into the category of “Defectors” – those who have reduced their paid (cable or satellite) TV service or are thinking of doing so, Another four are “Desirers,” who are generally loyal to traditional paid TV and/or are thinking of adding services.

The Defector groups account for almost 50 million people (21% of the US population), while there are about 22 million Desirers (9% of the population). Counter to frequent assumptions about cord cutters, Defectors have slightly higher incomes than Desirers ($62,000 per year, versus $60,000) and stream less – 62% of Defectors streamed video in the past month, versus 72% of Desirers.

Defectors are also older than Desirers, less likely to have children in their households, and slightly more likely to be male.

The Desirer groups, on the other hand, have higher levels for

receptivity to advertising
binge viewing TV shows (watching three or more episodes in one sitting),
passion and engagement with TV content, and
feeling that watching “live TV” is important to them.

“Today’s TV landscape has transformed into one big ‘trade-off’ ecosystem,” said Christie Kawada, EVP of Product Management and Innovation at GfK MRI. “Unless you are willing to pay for it all, you have to choose which services are within budget, and take which shows you get with them, sacrificing others in return. The good news for content providers is that content still drives most viewing behavior; so regardless of where content is offered, viewers will find a way to get it. What that means for content providers and distributors is that, first, viewers have not hit their threshold yet for ‘enough’ content. And, second, it is up to the experts in the TV space to figure out how to monetize and upsell on an ever-cannibalizing business model.”

William B. West

William B. West

William B. West has been an internet journalist since 1998. Writing for a total of 25 pro wrestling news sites at his peak, before retiring only to return to online journalism in 2011. Currently William is editor of, a contributor to, and editor in chief of &

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