U.S. cable operators lost about 2.9 million video subscribers in 2011, shrinking the overall pay-TV market by 1.5% even as telcos packed on 1.1 million and satellite TV providers were roughly flat at 280,000 net adds, according to Nielsen data.
Meanwhile, households with broadband and only free, over-the-air broadcast TV increased by 631,000 over the course of last year, climbing 14% to 5.1 million. Broadcast-only homes dropped 1%, to about 11 million households versus 11.15 million a year earlier, according to Nielsen's Cross-Platform Report for the fourth quarter of 2011.
Whether or not the broadband-plus-free-TV increase reflects a gathering "cord-cutting" trend, Nielsen found that 98% of video viewing remained on traditional TV in Q4.
While traditional TV viewing declined 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2011 -- or by roughly 46 minutes per month -- "the fact remains that Americans are not turning off," Nielsen said in a blog post Thursday. "They are shifting to new technologies and devices that make it easier for them to watch the video they want, whenever and wherever they want."