More Americans say they are “cutting the cord” these days

FAN Editor

More and more Americans seem to be “cutting the cord” and switching away from cable and satellite subscription services in favor of streaming services, reflecting changes in the way they consume television.  

Five years ago, 63% of Americans mostly watched television through cable and satellite. Today, that percentage has dropped to fewer than half of all Americans, while the percentage of those primarily watching television via a streaming service on the internet has jumped 17 percentage points, from 20% in 2016 to 37% today. About 1 in 10 Americans watch their TV through a digital antenna, which replaced old-fashioned broadcast television several years ago.


Most Americans 45 and older continue to utilize cable or satellite for watching TV, but streaming is now more popular than cable or satellite among adults under 45, and it’s how most adults under 35 now consume television. Just 22% of adults under 35 now primarily watch television through cable or satellite.


Though it’s especially popular among younger Americans, the use of streaming services to watch television has jumped among all age groups, compared to five years ago. The percentage of Americans turning to streaming has risen 22 percentage points among adults between 18 and 34, and 27 percentage points among those between 35 and 44. And while older adults still mostly watch cable or satellite, the percentage who now watch streaming has doubled among those between 45 and 54, and more than tripled among adults 55 and over.

This poll was conducted by telephone March 9-14, 2021 among a random sample of 1,004 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cellphones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

 Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.


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