Survey: 5.4 Million Americans Will Cut The Cable TV Cord In 2018

from the inevitability dept

The rise of cord cutting shows no sign of slowing down. As cable providers continue to raise prices yet refuse to seriously address their dismal customer service, nasty billing fraud problems and skyrocketing prices, more users than ever are flocking to a new variety of cheaper, more flexible streaming alternatives. Some cablecos have attempted to get out ahead of this trend by offering their own competing services (AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV), but most traditional cable providers seem intent on just doubling down on the same bad ideas that started the cord cutting trend in the first place.

The result is an obvious one. A new report indicates that more than 5.4 million cable TV subscribers are expected to cut the cord this year, resulting in a $5.5 billion loss in revenue for traditional cable TV providers like AT&T, Comcast, Charter and Verizon. That hit comes in comparison to the 4.8 million traditional pay TV subscribers lost in 2017, and the 3.8 million lost in 2016. It’s all thanks to this mysterious thing known as competition:

“As the process of finding alternative paths to content gets easier and easier, people are acting on the frustrations they have with traditional providers and leaving,? the study?s lead author and cg42 managing partner Stephen Beck told MarketWatch.”

Charts from the full study, which is stuck behind a $2,000 paywall, lays things out pretty clearly for companies like Comcast:

Remember of course, that this is a trend that cable and broadcaster execs spent years claiming either wasn’t real, or didn’t matter because things would auto-correct once Millennials started procreating. That incredible denial was in turn propped up by industry metric organizations like Nielsen, which were happy to tell industry executives precisely what they wanted to hear (that this was a trend that would be easily reversible without having to oh, actually do all that much). As the report notes, that head in the sand approach isn’t really paying dividends:

“Accelerating the cord-cutting trend is a lack of brand loyalty borne out of frustration, said Beck. Survey respondents were asked to rank their top frustrations by pay-TV provider. Beck found customers were most frustrated with being unable to get what they considered competitive or ?reasonable? rates, new customers getting better deals than existing ones and being ?nickeled and dimed? with multiple fees and charges.

Based on the survey data and information from public filings, cg42 predicts Comcast will lose 7.2% of its 21.3 million subscribers in 2018, a potential financial loss of $1.6 billion for the company. The firm also predicts AT&T?s DirecTV will lose 4.8% of their 24 million customers and a potential $1.2 billion.

These days, most executives do tend to acknowledge the trend is real (it’s pretty hard to ignore at this point), but they still aren’t particularly keen on actually doing anything about it. They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place: denying the trend is real and refusing to compete on price will simply accelerate defections. But buckling to demand, shoring up customer service, and offering less expensive, more flexible channel bundles will hurt revenues. That said, it still makes more sense to be ahead of a trend with a quality offering in the field, than playing catching up with streaming alternatives that have slowly built a solid brand following.

A big reason for this apathy among many industry giants is they know they have an ace in the hole: their monopoly over broadband. As TV revenues sag, providers are simply turning to price hikes, usage caps and overage fees (aka, even more arbitrary and unnecessary price hikes) in order to make cutting the cord and streaming as expensive as possible. And, thanks to napping regulators, the death of net neutrality, an apathetic, cash-compromised Congress, and a lack of real broadband competition in countless markets nationwide, not much is going to be done about it.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Survey: 5.4 Million Americans Will Cut The Cable TV Cord In 2018”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
35 Comments
rangda (profile) says:

Re: Cord Cut

That is the clear end game for them. As it stands right now from my provider (FIOS) it’s cheaper to get cable/broadband/phone than it is to get cable/broadband, so I have a home phone line whether I want it or not.

They will just shift the prices around so that you get “free” phone and “free” cable tv with your broadband. Your bill isn’t actually going to go down. That would require actual competition in the space which is something I won’t see in my lifetime.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Cord Cut

We have a couple, though neither are doing their jobs. Now we need a watchdog organization to watch over the watchdog organizations, who will eventually need a dog watcher watching over the watchdog watching watchdog organizations and hope they have enough treats already in their pockets so they won’t also become compromised.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You cannot jail a corporation. If one cannot be held accountable for their actions they should also not be able to avail themselves of the services available to the rest of “personhood”. You are either on the grid or off of it. Somehow corporations have been allowed to take advantage of some rights without being vulnerable to consequences.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, you might want to read the lawsuit against Suburban Express (and nutcase owner Dennis Toeppen)… there, the Illinois AG wants to take away its license to do business….

As I see it, the problem is that we don’t have a good, gradual way of increasing collective responsibility along with the collective power that comes with being a corporation.

A corporation should be somewhere between a private citizen and the government in terms of its rights. To illustrate, let’s use the statement “tobacco is good for you”…coming from me as an individual, the government promises me freedom, as a corporation, I might get sued by the FTC, and as the government, well, I hope that gets me and my department secretary fired by public acclaim.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think this article (and most articles) on cord cutting, miss the big picture here. Given the rollback of net neutrality and fcc regulation, in general, cord cutting is going to be irrelevant. The internet is destined to become nothing but tv, so internet access will just be a fancy name for monopolized cable tv as it always was, except on a larger scale. The packaging will be different, but it will be the same shit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I did it in 2002. I could not justify buying a tv because broadcasters went digital. Today I don’t want a tv. I can not tell you how happy I am not to be bombarded by ads and commercials 24/7.

Its been long enough now that if I go to someone else’s house I want to turn their tv off just to stop the irritation of those ads.

Christenson says:

Re: Monopolized junk...

Umm, the internet actually realizes the promise of hundreds of TV channels…here I am, hanging out on an essentially amateur “TV” show that only interests a few called “techdirt”.

Furthermore, the forces against the monopoly are already gathering in the wings…pay no attention to that man with the rockets and the 300 mile high internet satellites…or any of his competitors…or the people with pitchforks outside Ajit Paj’s office.

PRMan (profile) says:

Lack of competition?

> a lack of real broadband competition in countless markets nationwide, not much is going to be done about it.

This is where you are wrong. T-Mobile and Verizon are rolling out 5G right now and when they are done, they plan on offering HOME internet.

It won’t take much to out-compete the pathetic offerings that home ISPs are giving right now, especially with the rising prices.

MDT (profile) says:

Cut the Cord Myself

I was on DISH, and called up to switch my family over to the Hopper (we have 3 receivers, and are recording some shows 3 times for different rooms). They wanted me to pay them $300 for the ‘privilege’ of paying them $25 more per month for the one Hopper than the 3 receivers I already paid for.

I got so mad, I got 3 Roku’s, got everyone set up on them, and everyone in the family was happy enough with them. We cancelled the service, and when it came time to send the receivers back, they only sent us one box for one of the two HD receivers, they told us to keep the other receivers as they were ‘obsolete’. Up until that month, they’d been charging me $15 a month for that ‘obsolete’ receiver.

Ended up saving (even after upping my U-Verse to Unlimited for +$30/month) over $70 per month. And everyone is happy with the results.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Cut the Cord Myself

they only sent us one box for one of the two HD receivers, they told us to keep the other receivers as they were ‘obsolete’. Up until that month, they’d been charging me $15 a month for that ‘obsolete’ receiver.

Brilliant. Good enough to charge you for, not good enough for them to actually want back, such that they basically admitted flat out that they’d been charging you the same amount of money for sub-par hardware.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'Don't like our terms? Have fun finding an alternative.'

In most cases grocery stores face this little thing called ‘competition’, where if you don’t like what they offer and how they do it you can go elsewhere, giving them reason to provide you incentive to be a ‘loyal customer’ by sticking with them.

ISP’s on the other hand…

Valerie Simpson says:

Love your article. I agree when you say in your intro, “The rise of cord cutting shows no sign of slowing down. As cable providers continue to raise prices yet refuse to seriously address their dismal customer service, nasty billing fraud problems and skyrocketing prices, more users than ever are flocking to a new variety of cheaper, more flexible streaming alternatives.” So if you feel you’re paying too much for your cable services and want to cut the cord here’s an article I came across: https://blog.localcabledeals.com/2019/01/04/how-much-should-i-be-paying-for-cable-tv. Do give it a read.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...