More Cable Channels Than Ever = More Content You're Not Watching

A forthcoming Nielsen report reveals that while Americans now have access to -- and are paying for -- an average of 189 channels, they only watch 17 of them consistently.

What's the Latest Development?


Further lending credence to the common lament, "How can we have hundreds of channels but there's nothing on?" is Nielsen's forthcoming Advertising & Audiences Report. In it, they state that last year Americans had access to a record-high average of 189 cable channels, representing an increase of 60 channels from 2008. However, the average number of channels actually watched by the typical viewer during that same five-year period has remained steady: 17.

What's the Big Idea?

Cable companies continue to argue that bundling channels together is what makes it possible for viewers to enjoy both popular networks, such as ESPN, as well as less popular or even obscure networks. However, the Nielsen report demonstrates that more channels doesn't necessarily equal more channel watching, and more subscribers are abandoning cable altogether in favor of Netflix and other online content providers. The report suggests that cable companies look to improve the quality of their offerings: "[T]he best way to reach consumers in a world with myriad options is to be the best option."

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