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Cord cutting to accelerate: eMarketer

U.S. households are cutting the cord at a fast clip, and by 2018 about one in five of them will not pay for cable or satellite television, according to new data from research firm eMarketer.

The widespread access to digital content on services such as Netflix and HBO GO has made cord cutting an option for more and more households, eMarketer said on Thursday, predicting that the trend will accelerate in the next few years.

By 2017, the number of U.S. households with traditional TV packages will drop below 100 million, according to eMarketer.

"This year, the number of digital video services expanded at a faster pace than ever before," said eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna in a blog post on that firm's website. "In addition to standalone offerings from the likes of HBO, there are new digital bundles that include many of the channels consumers could only have received with cable and satellite subscriptions in the past."

In total, just under 20 million U.S. households did not pay for traditional television in 2014. By 2019, that number is expected to reach 28.1 million, according to the eMarketer data.

A major reason for cord cutting is cost. The average cable bill reached about $99 per month in 2014, while subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime have plans that start at less than $10 a month, notes the Leichtman Research Group.

The number of viewers who have never subscribed to cable or satellite TV — or the so-called cord-nevers — is growing as well.

This year, an estimated 12.9 percent of American adults have never subscribed to those services, and that figure is expected to reach 16 percent by 2019, according to eMarketer's research.

DISCLOSURE: Hulu is a joint venture owned by Fox Broadcasting, ABC and NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC.