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You Kids Are Still Watching -- And Paying for -- TV, Says Pay TV Giant

ESPN says "cord-nevers" aren't a big problem, yet.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The TV Industrial Complex is worried about cord-cutters — people who are bailing on their pay-TV subscriptions and turning to the Web instead.

And the TV Industrial Complex is even more worried about cord-nevers — twentysomethings who have grown up with Web video, haven't signed up for pay TV and may never sign up.

So here are a couple of soothing data points for the TV guys: About 75 percent of millennials are paying for cable, satellite or telco TV. And that number has stayed fairly steady since 2007, even though their Web video options have exploded since then.

Those data points come from ESPN, citing Nielsen. The sports powerhouse delivered them at an investor event earlier this month. So it would be reasonable if you took them with big helping of salt: “TV Business Doing Well, Says TV Business”.

If ESPN truly thought it didn’t have a millennial problem, or at least the makings of a millennial problem, then it wouldn’t be willing to join the Web TV service that Dish Network is planning.

Dish is trying to put together a “skinny” offering of ESPN and some other big TV channels — but not all of them — for about $30 a month. Dish wants to start selling the service this summer, targeting 20-somethings who watch a lot of video but don’t pay for TV.

But for now, ESPN seems convinced that no matter what you read, or what your friends tell you, lots of young folks are still paying for TV. Good news, for now, for pay TV’s most powerful company.

This article originally appeared on

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