How many people are cord-cutting these days?
Those numbers are pretty low: 2.65 million people have forgone their cable subscriptions for alternative methods between the years of 2008 and 2011, according to an April 2012 report by The Convergence Consulting Group. Nielsen has a similar figure, finding that the number of households paying a multichannel provider last year declined by 1.5 million.
Those millions are a very small number compared to the multi-millions of cable subscribers out there. The same Neilsen report showed that 98 percent of viewing was on traditional TV in the fourth quarter of 2011. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association -- a cable industry trade group -- puts the exact numbers at 57.9 million for cable video and 46.4 million for digital video, as of March 2012. That means the 2.65 million cord-cutters are around 2.5 percent of the television viewing population. Others have put the figure a bit higher, however. A recent Deloitte survey found that 9 percent of people surveyed have cancelled their cable subscriptions within the last year. (AllThingsD's Peter Kafka does not believe those numbers.) Nielsen has 4.5 percent of television-owning homes picking streaming over cable, as the chart below shows. However, that study just looks at television-owning households. Some of the people who get all their television viewing from the Internet probably don't own televisions, either.
Ok, but what about the trends?
Cord-cutting is on the rise; cable is not. That same Neilsen report noted a 22.8 percent increase in cord-cutters over the past year. Cable subscriber growth fell for the first time ever in 2010, but has since leveled off, with 2011 ending in flat subscriber growth, according to Credit Suisse analysts from last fall. Total pay TV industry subscriptions have remained unchanged at 100.8 million. "Over the same period, however, occupied households have grown by 1.25 million," said Credit Suisse analyst Stefan Anninger. "In turn, pay TV penetration has fallen from 84.1 percent in the third quarter of 2010 to 83.2 percent."