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New Roku Study Explores Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Streaming Habits

Torrey Hart

The 2020 edition of Roku’s annual cord cutting study released Tuesday, titled “Cord Cutting in Uncertain Times,” demonstrates some of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on American streaming habits.

Seven thousand Americans ages 18 and over were surveyed in March 2020 about their TV household, followed by 2,000 Americans ages 18 and over in May to understand changes in repose to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study found that approximately 32 percent of U.S. TV households do not have a traditional pay-TV subscription (cable, satellite, telco). In last year’s survey, Roku identified a transitional category of streamers called “cord shavers” – viewers who have reduced their pay-TV service package within the past two years – and found that label applied to 25 percent of households this year.

Forty-five percent of cord shaver households said they were likely to fully cut the cord this year.

Forty percent of the surveyed households said that access to free trials and extended free trials to premium subscription services helped convince them to cut traditional pay TV service.

As professional sports slowly start to return to action, viewers who cut the cord amid the pandemic are likely looking for new ways to watch. According to the study, 17 percent of recent cord cutter households said they would re-subscribe to traditional pay TV when live sports return. Thirty-one percent said they are likely to subscribe to a live sports streaming service, and over half (52 percent) of traditional and cord shaver households say they are likely to reduce their package if televised live sports on traditional pay TV does not return.

Further, 28 percent of respondents ranked the loss of live televised sports as their top reason for cutting the cord. Cutting home entertainment expenses was the leading reason.

More generally, four out of five cord cutter households said they are satisfied with their decision to cut traditional pay TV and 63 percent said they wish they had abandoned it sooner.

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