Millennials Are Cutting Cable But Still Sneak Out of Home TV

We and every other streaming video blog have been covering the slow-burn demise of cable as more and more households cut cable and streaming begins to become the dominant way to watch television series and movies. Still, cable and satellite are holding on to the bitter end and as many as 40% of American households still subscribe to traditional pay TV. While many observers have predicted that cable will continue to erode as millennials start to dominate consumer spending, it turns out that many millennials still sneak in traditional linear TV despite cutting the cable.

In a new report published this month, data measurement firm Nielsen found that millennials still watch linear TV while outside of the home. According to Nielsen, this out-of-home, or OOH TV is part of the ongoing “media fragmentation” which is being driven by the ubiquity of screens and devices available to millennials:

[In] today’s landscape wrought with device fragmentation, content choices and unique consumption habits, younger audiences have seemingly been an enigmatic group that encapsulates these variables. Some of these complex issues, however, can be solved by looking toward a simple solution—out-of-home (OOH) TV viewing.

Nielsen’s report claims that while “OOH viewing is often thought of as a behavior reserved for sports buffs watching at their favorite bar or politicos tuning into the news while on the treadmill,” many millennials prefer to gather with others to watch entertainment content “with all its glamour, glitz and water cooler moments” in order to foster “a social environment where viewers—together in person—can revel in what’s on the screen.” Think of Game of Thrones  or RuPaul’s Drag Race watch parties: the biggest, most-talked about shows have for decades been times to gather around the tube and take in the spectacle together. Who does the same anymore thing while late-night binge watching on the couch in pajamas?

While more and more millennials cut the cord or are even “cord nevers,” that doesn’t mean that millennials aren’t also nostalgic for many of the experiences that came along with the headaches of pay TV. Remember channel surfing? Scrolling through endless content ribbons just isn’t the same. Will traditional linear TV always have a niche for these social out-of-home experiences?