NEW YORK: US TV viewers who subscribe to online streaming services are more likely to use these in addition to their existing cable and satellite services than as an alternative.

Research company Ipsos polled 2,015 adults aged 18-49 who viewed prime-time TV at least twice a week for its MediaCT TV Dailies study into this group's subscription service behaviour and found most had maintained or added to their cable or satellite services in the past six months.

The report described these consumers, who accounted for 64% of prime-time viewers, as 'Cord Lovers'. A further 27% had cut back on the level of services in the past six months – 'Cord Shavers' – while 2% had cancelled completely. And 7% of respondents had not had any cable or satellite subscriptions in that time.

Gavin Bridge, director with Ipsos MediaCT, said it was a misconception that the growing popularity of online services such as Netflix, Hulu and iTunes was leading to the cancellation of TV services.

"In contrast, our studies find that these services are often used as complementary to the TV viewing experience", he said, "with Cord Lovers the most likely to download or stream via iTunes."

As the survey found those consumers who were cutting back on TV subscription services were also most likely to have cut back on paid online streaming services, Ipsos MediaCT suggested this was indicative of their wider efforts to control spending on entertainment generally.

It further noted that respondents without any TV service subscription had the highest overall streaming activity, but were the least likely to download shows from paid websites.

"The real opportunity for TV providers lies in those who do not have a subscription and those who are cutting back their subscription levels," said Bridge, who anticipated they would move to offer "à la carte cable" and affordable packages.

The media picture is becoming increasingly complicated as major companies such as Sony, Google and Amazon are linked with online pay-TV services.

But, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, they can face difficulties in acquiring TV-channel rights as the media businesses that control TV networks and studios are reluctant to take any action that could harm existing pay-TV providers.

In addition, a recent court ruling threatens an end to net neutrality and opens up the possibility of a tiered internet service which would affect the business model of streaming services.

Data sourced from Ipsos, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff