Americans are abandoning traditional television in favor of free and online shows at a much faster rate than expected, new research reveals.
People are cutting the cord on their television services at a much more rapid rate than previously thought, according to research conducted by eMarketer.
In fact, the research predicts that in 2017 22.2 million adults in the US will cancel their cable television service - up 33 percent from 2016.
Only 15.4 million people were initially predicted to cancel, researchers explain.
The firm said that this decline is being driven by an increase in the number of people who have switched to free television services or online streaming, which is often less expensive.
Americans are watching less traditional television in favor of free and online TV sources, a new study shows (stock image)
People are cancelling traditional television services at a much faster rate than previously thought, according to research conducted by eMarketer . In fact, in 2017 22.2 million adults in the US will cancel their cable, satellite or telco television service - which is up 33 percent from 2016, the research predicts
The number who have never paid for a television service is also expected to rise by 5.8 percent this year, to 34.4 million people.
'Younger audiences continue to switch to either exclusively watching [over-the-top] video or watching them in combination with free-TV options,' senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer Chris Bendtsen explained.
'Last year, even the Olympics and the presidential election could not prevent younger audiences from abandoning pay TV.'
This year 196.3 million adults in the US will still have pay TV, but by 2021 that number is predicted to drop to 181.7 million.
That decline is mostly driven by television viewers under 55, as the number of people older than that who pay for television is expected to keep growing over the next four years.
By 2021 the number of people who have never paid for television service is expected to equal the number of people who have cancelled their traditional pay TV.
And on top of that, the number who have never paid for a television service will rise by 5.8 percent this year to 34.4 million people. By 2021 the number of people who have never paid for television service is expected to equal the number of people who have cancelled their traditional pay TV.
At that point eMarketer predicts around 30 percent of American adults won't pay for a traditional television service.
Those estimates don't include people who pay for virtual internet television services, such as AT&T's DirecTV, Hulu's live TV service, or YouTube TV.
But even still those numbers don't offset the declines in traditional television viewers, meaning providers are still tasked with a way to make up for the loss in revenue.
These numbers are also reflected in an overall decline in the number of people taking time out of their day to watch traditional television.
The number of hours people spend watching TV a day is predicted to drop to below four hours this year.
However, the number of people watching video online is continuing to climb. Television advertising budgets are expected to drop as a result of this decrease.