NewYork, 24.04.2017

Cord Cutters, Cord Nevers have different preferences in streaming networks, shows

Ongoing GfK MRI Cord Evolution data provides deep profiles, trends for over a dozen US “cord” populations

Though they share one thing – the lack of a traditional paid cable or satellite TV subscription – Cord Cutters and Cord Nevers in the US differ in a host of ways, including their tastes in streaming video platforms and shows.

New findings from GfK MRI’s Cord Evolution studies show that four of the top 10 streaming shows among Cord Nevers (TV viewers who have never paid for a traditional TV connection) do not even appear among the favorites of Cord Cutters (viewers who had and then eliminated standard TV subscriptions). (See Table 1.) And while three of Cord Nevers’ favorite shows are found on Amazon or Hulu, all 10 of Cutters’ top shows are on Netflix.

The tri-annual Cord Evolution studies from GfK MRI offer a deeper dive into streaming attitudes and behaviors among 10,000 respondents nationwide.

Cord Cutters account for 8% of the US population and have an average age of 43 – while Cord Nevers are 9 years younger on average (34) and represent 9% of all US consumers. Over half (52%) of Cord Nevers are Millennials (ages 18 to 34), compared to just 35% of Cord Cutters.  

Not surprisingly, Netflix is the number 1 streaming video service among Cord Cutters, with 57% saying they have used the service in the past year; in addition, 50% said they had used YouTube and 37% used Amazon. Among Cord Nevers, YouTube beats out Netflix (46% versus 39%), with Amazon again coming in third – at a much lower 25%.

The most recent wave of data also shows that 60% of Cord Nevers said they are “very satisfied” with their current TV access situation, compared to 50% of Cord Cutters. However, almost one-quarter (22%) of Cord Nevers also say they intend to subscribe to a traditional TV service in the next 6 months – a figure that is slightly higher (27%) among Millennial Cord Nevers.

Large percentages of Cord Nevers (43%) and Cord Cutters (50%) define “TV” as anything they can watch specifically on a TV set; but 29% of both Cutters and Nevers say that TV is “anything (they) can view on any device” (including a smartphone or tablet).

The research also shows that Cord Nevers are heavy short video viewers and over index for OTT services like BBC News, Showtime, and Vevo. Cord Cutters, on the other hand, are heavy internet users and are more likely to be parents (35%, index of 112); they also over-index for OTT services like PBS Video, Disney Movies, Sling TV and A&E.

Table 1. Favorite streaming-only shows: Cord Cutters vs. Cord Nevers


Cord Cutters

Cord Nevers


“Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix)

“Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix)


“Stranger Things” (Netflix)

“Fuller House” (Netflix)


“House of Cards” (Netflix)

“Stranger Things” (Netflix)


“Fuller House” (Netflix)

“Daredevil” (Netflix)


“Making a Murderer” (Netflix)

“The Mindy Project” (Hulu)


“Luke Cage” (Netflix)

“All or Nothing” (Amazon)


“Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (Netflix)

“Narcos” (Netflix)


“Daredevil” (Netflix)

“Black Mirror” (Netflix)


“Black Mirror” (Netflix)

“Arrested Development” (Netflix)


“Arrested Development” (Netflix)

“Man in the High Castle” (Amazon)

“Cord Nevers and Cord Cutters bring very different histories and expectations to viewing,” explains Karen Ramspacher, GfK MRI’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights and director of the Future of TV research program. “Both groups still have strong allegiance to TV sets and traditional programming models – but they clearly have different viewing tastes, and even diverge on their perceptions of what TV actually is. As Millennials get older, we can look for these populations to transform and perhaps grow more similar – while Gen Z will begin to shape the Cord Never group more and more.”  

The findings come from GfK MRI’s Cord Evolution research and are based on 25,000 respondents in GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer®.  Cord Evolution profiles 10 groups on the TV “cord spectrum,” including Cord Loyalists, Cord Increasers, Cord Cutters, and Cord Nevers (and those in-between), revealing not just what and how they are watching, but also the why’s behind their viewing and subscription choices.

To learn more, download our latest infographic below.

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About GfK

GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.

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