Broadcasters Suddenly Notice That Cord-Cutters Exist, Freak Out

If you’re frugal and Internet-savvy, you’ve heard of cord-cutting. Cord-cutters ditch their expensive cable or satellite subscriptions and keep broadband Internet. Then they stream, rent, or (shh) illegally download their favorite programs, and some buy antennae to watch major networks over-the-air like it’s 1972 or something. What broadcasters are trying to figure out is whether they can depend on these consumers, mostly young and childless, to subscribe to traditional cable once they’re older and more settled.

The media-analytics company Nielsen calls households that have no televisions hooked up to an antenna or cable connection “Zero-TV households.” There were two million of them in 2007, and now they estimate that there are about five million. Nielsen finally figured out that maybe they should start measuring what TV programs these people watch and how.

“As these homes change life stage, what will happen to them?” one Nielsen VP asked the Associated Press. Will they subscribe to Nickelodeon to pacify their toddlers, when they have them, or continue with their wacky Netflix-streaming ways?

As broadcasters meet for their annual conference in Vegas this week, they’re trying to figure out how to make money off these people. After all, it’s not the network that makes money when you stream “The Walking Dead” over Amazon.

Broadcasters worry about ‘Zero TV’ homes [AP]