There's been a growing movement across the country of people getting rid of their cable or satellite television subscriptions, foregoing even the aerial antenna and watching sports and entertainment programming through their computer, tablets or mobiles. This phenomenom is labeled "Zero TV" by the Nielsen rating service and it has the networks concerned. A study by Nielsen estimates there are five million homes that have "cut the cord." Many are fed up of paying over $100 a month for TV while others have grown up with no cable at all.

The cord cutters have broadcasters so concerned they're discussing the issue at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas this week. What they're worried about is people using Netflix, iTunes and other services to watch TV shows. In addition, the cord cutters are subscribing to MLB.TV, NBA League Pass online and NHL Gamecenter to watch sports.

Broadcasters say the Zero TV numbers are growing as new subscibers to cable and satellite providers have slowed. But while there are over 100 million TV households across the country, the numbers are down from from three years ago. Nielsen says those who have chucked their TV's are young, single and childless. The networks hope that the trend will change as this group gets older.

In addition, there's Aereo, a service that allows people to watch broadcast television on their tablets and mobiles. The networks have lost challenges to shut down the service and they're so angry about it that Fox is threatening to go all-cable if Aereo continues to win in the courts. While that is probably an idle threat, Aereo could have enough steam to make a breakthrough with viewers.

The cord cutters have made the networks sit up and notice. The key is to make a product that people want to watch. Will the broadcasters find a way to to bring this group into the fold or have they lost the Zero TV generation forever? That is a story that will be watched over the next few years.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.