Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm.

Smell Test! Are 23% Of Netflix Subscribers Really Cord Cutters?

House of Cards

Peter Kafka tweets:

“10% of Netflix’ 33mm subs have watched 6 eps of house of cards, and 23% are cord cutters? Both seem too high”

This is based on a TechCrunch article by Ryan Lawler, citing a survey by Cowen and Company, a bank. Lawler writes:

Cowen surveyed 1,200 people last week, of which about 28 percent were paying Netflix subscribers, and another 18 percent had access to a Netflix streaming account. Of those, about 10 percent had watched House of Cards during the first few weeks it was available. And they’re not just watching one episode — on average, Netflix viewers had streamed an average of six episodes of the new original series.

Okay. And:

Approximately 23 percent of Netflix subscribers said they had cancelled their cable or satellite TV service. Those who had cancelled watched about 8.5 hours of content on average.

Well, not 23% of all Netflix subscribers — 23% of the Netflix subscribers surveyed by Cowen and Company, which were 28% of the people they surveyed. That’s 23% of 28% of 1,200. That’s 77 people.

Same goes with the House of Cards stats: It’s not perfectly clear what Lawler is describing, but it seems that it’s based on 10% of the combined 46% of respondents — paying subscribers and people “borrowing” access? That’s 55 people.

I don’t know anything about Cowen’s methodology — I haven’t seen the report — but I’d be a lot more comfortable with a bigger sample size of Netflix subscribers, and a survey pool that extends beyond people who take online surveys. (I’m guessing this was an online survey.)

I haven’t started watching House of Cards yet, though Twitter suggests it’s solid. But as for cord-cutting Netflix subscribers, 23% does seem high — my hunch is that 6 million losses would probably show up more dramatically in cable subscriber reports.