TDG: New Category Known as 'Pay-TV Delayers' Further Complicates the Home TV Picture

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Late Millennials are Prone to Delay Traditional Pay-TV Subscriptions When Moving into Their First Non-College Residence

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In the next five years, growing competition from virtual operators will test incumbents’ longstanding position as the default home TV service.

According to new research from The Diffusion Group (TDG), Late Millennials (18-24s) who move into their first non-college residence are equally likely to sign up immediately for cable, satellite, or telco-TV services as they are to delay or forgo it altogether. This data is drawn from TDG's latest multi-client primary research project, Late Millennials: A Study in Media Behavior.

"More than half of these young adults sign up for an MVPD video service the moment they move into their first non-college residence," notes Michael Greeson, president and principal analyst for TDG. "The others signed at some point before turning 24 (38%) or decided to forgo these services altogether (11%)."

Greeson notes that this last point is very important. "By the time they turn 24, 89% of Late Millennials living on their own subscribe to a traditional pay-TV service, which is about the average penetration of incumbent pay-TV across all broadband households. This is good news for both services providers and networks. Whether they maintain that subscription over time, and for how long, is another question."

"A number of statistical indicators suggest younger consumers are leaning away from incumbent pay-TV as a default home TV choice, instead turning to alternate TV sources or viewing online video on non-television platforms. That said, these are behaviors and preferences expressed in early adulthood, prior to landing a decent job, marriage, having children, and moving up the career ladder. As the context changes, says traditional wisdom, so too will their attitude regarding the worth and necessity of traditional pay-TV services. MVPDs have banked on this fact for several decades and this assumption has historically held true."

However, Greeson noted emphatically, this does not diminish the challenges facing today's incumbents. "In the next five years, growing competition from virtual operators will test incumbents' longstanding position as the default home TV service. Greater choice means consumers will have little patience for ongoing price increases that do not significantly expand service benefits."

Greeson predicts the outcome of TWC/CBS debacle will be a turning point, proving the extent to which content networks are able to impose their will on operators, both large and small. "When these negotiations are resolved, the entire television industry will know who has the real leverage. Content will indeed be king, if only because incumbent operators are no longer the only conduit capable of reaching the TV."

While TDG is widely known as a research firm steeped in the disruptive impact of over-the-top video delivery, it continues to do extensive work helping operators best respond to these power shifts. TDG's new primary research project, Late Millennials: A Study in Media Behavior, offers detailed insights into the preferences and behavior of broadband users between the ages of 18 and 24 - a consumer segment that will play an integral part in determining the future of TV, and one that incumbents cannot afford to lose.

For more information about this one-of-a-kind research, please contact TDG at 469-287-8060.

About TDG Research:

TDG provides actionable intelligence on the quantum shifts impacting consumer technology and media behaviors. Since 2004, our market research and advisory services have helped technology vendors, media companies, and service providers understand how consumers access, navigate, distribute, and consume broadband media - whenever and wherever they may be. For more information, visit our website at

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Wendy Stockard
TDG Research
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