Just a few years ago, Nielsen proclaimed that the idea of TV cord cutting in favor of Internet video alternatives was "purely fiction." Subsequent Nielsen reports have often quite adorably gone out of their way
to downplay cord cutters to protect their cozy relationship with cable ad executives. Fast forward a few years and the latest Nielsen data
shows that there are now five million users who consume video -- but don't use a traditional cable connection to do it. That number is up from 2 million in 2007, apparently qualifying it as a trend Nielsen can no longer equate to unicorn and yeti.
Nielsen apparently doesn't want to call these cord cutters cord cutters, so they have crafted a new, more unaggressive term: "Zero TV." Either way, things have apparently just gotten much less fictional for the TV metric company, even if the company's blog entry has to repeatedly
remind you how insignificant these users are -- for now.
"This small group of video enthusiasts is tuning out traditional TV—and the trend is growing," Nielsen informs its readers belatedly. "This "Zero-TV" group, which makes up less than 5 percent of U.S. households, has bucked tradition by opting to get the information they need and want from non-traditional TV devices and services."
To be clear, analysts who have highlighted the importance of cord cutting as a trend have always stated it was a very small and slowly growing contingent of users
-- but an important shift. That's in contrast to oh, trying to argue these users are all 40 year old dysfunctional men living in their parents' basement
. The traditional cable industry and all those feeding at the cable trough consistently try just a little too hard
to mock the trend as irrelevant.
Nielsen's sudden about face on acknowledging cord cutters comes just as the company finally begins more seriously tracking streaming video watched on smartphones, laptops and iPads. After years of pressure from broadcasters, Nielsen is finally going to expand its definition of television to include broadband video enabled devices -- efforts that are going to take the company another several years