Cord Cutting Has Utterly Exploded During the Covid Crisis

from the accelerated-evolution dept

The cable industry was already struggling last year, when a record number of cable customers “cut the cord” and flocked to over the air or streaming alternatives. That was before a pandemic came to town. Now, with some sports on hiatus and folks desperate to cut costs, the trend has only accelerated, to the point where 6 million Americans are poised to cut the cord this year alone:

“By the end of this year, 31.2 million US households will have cut the cable TV cord in aggregate. And 6.6 million households will cancel their pay TV subscriptions. By 2024, more than one-third of US households will have cut the pay TV cord.”

The first quarter of 2020 alone saw more than 1.8 million users cancel traditional cable — a record. That’s fairly impressive for a trend cable industry executives (and the folks at places like Nielsen paid to tell them what they want to hear) spent years trying to pretend wasn’t happening, then tried to downplay it as something only losers do. Late last year, a lot of cable executives made headlines by trying to claim the shift was coming to an end. Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, for example, offered up this prediction last November:

“I think in aggregate they?re going to slow down,? said Rutledge. ?Because I think most single-family homes have big TVs in them and that?s where you get sports, that?s where you get news, that?s where you get live TV like this. It?s still going to be under price pressure. I?m not saying the category isn?t under pressure. But I think the rate of decline will slow.”

It didn’t slow. And there was absolutely no indication a slowdown was coming, even before Covid-19 came to town. The number of folks still paying for traditional cable has now dropped 22.8% from pay TV’s peak back in 2014. But by the end of 2024, analysts expect that fewer than half of US homes will subscribe to a traditional pay TV service. That is, I believe, the opposite of “slowing down.”

To be clear, the cable TV sector still lays claim to 77 million subscribers in the United States, even though that’s a drop of 7.5% year over year (another record). And many of the biggest companies (like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast) should be fine, given they can just jack up the price for broadband thanks to regional monopolies over internet service. But with competition heating up in streaming, and consumer financial headaches likely persisting throughout 2020, downplaying or ignoring one of the biggest trends in TV history is no longer an option for some of the least liked companies in American industry.

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Comments on “Cord Cutting Has Utterly Exploded During the Covid Crisis”

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Anonymous Coward says:

this again

cord cutting: that fallacy in which you think you’re sticking-it-to-the-man by refusing to pay your local monopoly ISP for both cable TV service and internet access, and instead settle for paying your [SAME] local monopoly ISP for only throttled internet access — at a higher monthly cost than you were paying prior to "cutting cable".
!Winning!

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: this again

Oh dear, the maturity level dropped again. Any major news that’s got you all hurt this weekend?

Tell me, what is your evidence for the claims you just made? Please provide the details that prove that you didn’t yet again erect a flimsy strawman so that you can attack an imaginary enemy instead of the harsh reality in front of you.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 this again

Reading is fundamental, Pauly. When did I attack people? I attacked the notion that you’re actually "cutting the cord" when, in actuality, you’re still paying the same cable/ISP-now for only internet access. No one’s "cutting the cord" unless they quit paying the local monopolistic ISP.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 this again

" I attacked the notion that you’re actually "cutting the cord" when, in actuality, you’re still paying the same cable/ISP-now for only internet access"

Except, as I mentioned, I’m not. Nor are a great many people where the unregulated monopolies that infect your land are allowed to scam people.

"No one’s "cutting the cord" unless they quit paying the local monopolistic ISP."

Then, stop whining about people doing that and start whining at the corrupt system that allows such fraud to thrive.

Of course, you’re yet to supply the requested evidence that this is happening in the US either, but the correct target is monopolistic fraudsters, not Techdirt for pointing out that all else being equal people who have the choice are correct to take it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 this again

Personally? Now a cable company since I live in a country with robust and widespread competition that doesn’t involve cable if I don’t want it.

In the US? Provide your evidence that people who stop paying for TV channels are always paying more for their internet connection than people who continue to pay for things they don’t want.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 this again

"…if you stop paying you ISP for cable TV, but still pay them for internet access, who are you still paying?"

Wow, a straw man argument, a red herring, AND tossing both of them past the moved goalposts?

It’s pretty obvious that paying for a generic connection which lets you pick and choose your entertainment is better than being lured to pay for a thousand channels worth of cold garbage of which you may want perhaps three.

The monopolization of internet providers is a completely separate debate. To the statement that a given brand of car is a bad choice you then clutch your pearls and whinge sarcastically about how the guy who owns the road is a crook, so changing your car won’t do anything for you…

Well done, Richie. As usual every time you show up the very first argument is a pack of lies and the second an immature bag of ad hominem to make people stop questioning your initial assertion.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 this again

What’s obvious is that reading comprehension is not your thing.
If your cable/ISP bill was $100, then you ‘cut cable’ and now your bill is $50. Then you add a streaming service to compensate for your lack of cable; depending on the price of the streaming service, you’ve just raised the price of your monthly/yearly internet access & entertainment bill(s) close to what you were paying beforehand. Furthermore, the price of said streaming service and internet access are not static; they will increase over time; thus, you will end up paying the same or more than what you were paying initially. Paying more is paying more. Whether you pay more to the ISP, or you pay more to the ISP & Streaming service, you’re still paying more.
What I’ve always proposed is local ISP/cable competition as a means of lowering local ISP costs and ending local ISP/cable monopolies. Cutting cable is merely a band-aid on a bucket full of holes. The real issue is that (in the US at least), local ISP/cable providers are free to raise costs at will until competition (and proper government regulation) put them in check. In the meantime, we’re still feeding the rats.
You and Pauly still don’t get it though.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 this again

"If your cable/ISP bill was $100, then you ‘cut cable’ and now your bill is $50. Then you add a streaming service to compensate for your lack of cable; depending on the price of the streaming service, you’ve just raised the price of your monthly/yearly internet access & entertainment bill(s) close to what you were paying beforehand."

Point 1: Few streaming services are $50/month. If you believe that cutting 50% from your bill then paying 10% for Netflix means you’re paying close to the same a month, your maths is what needs addressing, not the person stating that.

Point 2: Even if you insist that subscribing to multiple services is inevitable, the flexibility and choice available from streaming vs. cable still makes it a good move.

"What I’ve always proposed is local ISP/cable competition as a means of lowering local ISP costs and ending local ISP/cable monopolies."

Yeah, we did that in Europe in the 90s/200s, but I’ve spent the last couple of decades watching idiots support increasing the cable monopolies instead of introducing such "socialism".

"You and Pauly still don’t get it though."

I get it, and I am enjoying the rewards of such things happening. But, for some reason, dickheads like you like to attack me for pointing out reality.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 this again

When you resort to name calling, I’ve already won.
-Generally do prices for goods and service increase or decrease over time? Answer: increase, as will the price of these streaming services, and the price of cable-less internet access. The customer doesn’t win without local ISP competition.
-You attempt to claim that I’m in support of "increasing the cable monopolies". If you’d wipe the tea and hate from your eyes and actually read for once, you’d see that I’m clearly in support of competition in the ISP/cable space in addition to limited, correct government regulation (when necessary) that favors such competition.
If you were able to get your cable/ISP bill down to say $100/month ($1200/yr.) and then you drop cableTV (ISP only bill is now $40/month), add Netflix Premium at $16/month…that’s still $672/year as opposed to $1200/year. Yes, you’ve saved money, but you know these prices are not static, and you know that they will increase, and you know that at the end of the day you’re still paying the same cable/ISP company.
In brief,
-you’re still paying the same cable/ISP company if you "cut the cord"
-the prices for this cable-less internet access are (based solely on historic evidence) only going to increase;
-as are the prices of your additional streaming services.
You’ve temporarily saved $$. I’d also like to save money based on lower pricing due to competition in the ISP space.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:7 this again

When you resort to name calling, I’ve already won.

You managed to lose the debate with the second post you made:

Mr. Sadpockets Defeatist (aka PaulT) is back

and then to really nail that point home you posted this:

Riddle me this, Pauly Pockets

The above tells me you are just another dishonest troll.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 this again

"When you resort to name calling, I’ve already won."

Well, you did start the kindergarten tactics if you read back, so thanks for confirming.

"-Generally do prices for goods and service increase or decrease over time?"

Increase, which is why competition and regulation are important. Which makes it strange that you launched straight into suggesting that voting with their wallets was a bad thing.

"-you’re still paying the same cable/ISP company if you "cut the cord""

Again, I’m not.

"Yes, you’ve saved money"

By your maths, 44% of your annual bill, which is a significant saving. Yet, you’re saying this is a bad thing because the bill will increase at some point.

"-as are the prices of your additional streaming services."

So.. don’t use them because inflation happens?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 this again

Again, Pauly, you’re not reading well.
From the beginning I’ve stated that settling for cutting cable instead of striving for competition in the ISP space is the wrong goal to aim for.
Please point me back to where I stated that competition is a bad thing in the ISP space…you can’t because I never said, nor implied that. Both you and Scary are fine with the temporary gains of saving money by cutting cable – Quarterly Gains. You’re both concerned with temporary gains, whereas, correct gov. regulation and competition in the ISP arena would provide for long term changes and lower prices for both cable TV and internet access across the board. In the end, some would rather play wack-a-mole by paying company A for internet access and company B (and C, and on and on…) for TV. Others would rather company A and B and C etc. compete against each other to provide the best internet service and/or cable TV in (at least) each major city.
I’m for competition to drive prices down; apparently you and Scary are for some other ad hoc option.

The fork in the road:
A-cheaper pricing thru internet access + streaming
B-cheaper pricing thru increased ISP competition
I’ll take B.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 this again

"Again, Pauly, you’re not reading well."

No, I’m reading perfectly, as are the other people you’re attacking for reading comprehension. Perhaps the issue is with the idiot level of typing we’re responding to?

"From the beginning I’ve stated that settling for cutting cable instead of striving for competition in the ISP space is the wrong goal to aim for."

Why do you believe that people can only do one thing? Why should people not cut the entertainment options they don’t have just because your market is so broken that they don’t have a choice in the ISP side of things?

"The fork in the road:
A-cheaper pricing thru internet access + streaming
B-cheaper pricing thru increased ISP competition
I’ll take B."

…and if those aren’t the choices on the table?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 this again

"However, I do not apologize for vehemently disagreeing with you."

Nobody’s asking you to. However, since you launched into a completely different argument to the one raised. by the article, you should expect to have to defend the argument you introduced.

But, no, you started by playground name calling then attacking people with a different opinion as being wrong, without ever being able to back up your own argument, and now have apparently whined and took your ball home when challenged. Pathetic child.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 this again

Think first, Jr.
If Netflix started at $100/month, would they have the customer base that they have now? Of course they start at a lower price in order to lure customers away from the cable companies. Even you stated "much higher rate THAN Streaming Services", meaning that streaming services are also raising their rates. Like I said, paying more is paying more. So you’d rather pay more to both an ISP/cable company and a streaming service. I’d rather there be an increase in ISP/cable companies locally, and that these companies fight each other to get my $$. Streaming companies are thriving because:
-they fill the customer’s desire for entertainment at lower pricing than the ISP/cable companies.
ISP’s are thriving because they are local monopolies.

Duh, Business101.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 this again

"If Netflix started at $100/month, would they have the customer base that they have now?"

No, nor will they keep it if they ever raise their prices anywhere close to that, hence it being a moronic argument for you to make. It’s a totally different market, but one that directly competes with the cable monopolisation of their industry. Which is a good thing, despite you claiming that people shouldn’t switch because they don’t have competition in the ISP space.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 this again

"If Netflix started at $100/month, would they have the customer base that they have now?"

False analogy. Netflix isn’t alone in the market – unlike cable channels where once you have that one box – or even just that cable drawn – you’ve got exactly one choice of entertainment provider. You know how to spell "natural monopoly"? Because this is how you create one.

Netflix, HBO, Disney+, Hulu and every other choice of online streaming vendor know damn well their business model relies on two things – convenience and competitive edge. Failing either presumptive customers just hoist the jolly roger and sail off for the bay of pirates instead. So unlike the natural monopoly and lock-in "generously" provided by Cable, there is actual choice.

Cable has a long and proven record of being the worst possible, highest cost, most inflexible choice in general, a situation accreted by the cable provider knowing damn well consumers had no choice – and in the days where in order to get to MTV and the movie channels you also had to accept paying an extra 80% to be served an unholy mess of sport, porn, theology, cooking channels, etc, that worked. People grumbled and paid because if you wanted to watch the NHL playoffs you needed to fork it out for Indian Cricket Leagues as well.

Now here is where your entire argument presents a massive incredibly flawed assumption; Every household already needs to pay the internet bill. It’s not tied to the cable and box.

Your presentation after that becomes a series of one broken logic after another where you argue that because the ISP is monopolistic, any argument about getting rid of cable is irrelevant. And it obviously isn’t, as many millions of cable cutters will attest.

"I’d rather there be an increase in ISP/cable companies locally, and that these companies fight each other to get my $$."

I can understand that, but if you live in the US that obviously won’t happen – because Trump and Ajit Pai, or possibly because Biden later on, because neither party likely to have a president and congress within this century inclined to piss in the punch bowl of major campaign donors.

To get to the point where there is a viable choice of providers you’d need to go with the various european models where all core infrastructure is subject to enforced bandwidth lease agreements – ensuring that the fiber laying, especially the "last mile", is often handled by joint ventures giving you at least two and sometimes up to six potential providers, initially.

But that would be government regulation or, as americans so often like to call it, "socialism". It’s not going to happen.

So if what you want is a multitude of choices then the US – in any area where it is at all possible to establish a natural monopoly – is not for you. It’s that simple.

And that leaves you with two options only; Pay for internet and cable where your monopoly provider ALSO holds your wallet hostage for entertainment…or internet only and your choice of streaming service or torrent page, depending on what stage of stupid your favorite streaming provider is at.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 this again

"False analogy"

It’s a ridiculous analogy, but one that betrays how little thought he’s put into the subject.

The fact is that while Netflix and cable are competitors – directly so in some ways – they are very different businesses. Cable packages are designed around offering people a selection of channels that broadcast pre-set scheduled content. Netflix offers a library of content that customers can pick and choose from at their leisure. While they compete in the wider entertainment category, they are not direct competitors in terms of business model.

So, while people are cutting the cable they’re not simply making a decision based on price, they are saying that they favour the a la carte offering. This is why the denial of it happening has been so stupid – even if they were offered at the same price (and they never will be because the products are completely different), people would still want the Netflix model over the packaged channel bundle model.

Then, you open that out and realise that the streaming subscription services aren’t just competing with each other – there’s subscription-free streaming TV/movie options such as Tubi or PlutoTV, non-TV streaming such as YouTube and Twitch, for many people gaming has taken over any kind of passive viewing experience and so on. So, they have to compete based on many different things that packaging a bunch of pre-selected channels will simply not cut it with the basics of the business model that cable has been clinging to.

The bottom line is that while the ISP business in the US is broken and needs a hell of a lot of work, the choices that customers have once they decide they no longer want the

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 this again

"What’s obvious is that reading comprehension is not your thing."

No…I think my reading comprehension might just not be your thing. Can’t blame you when what you present is a bunch of flawed assumptions on top of broken logic and bad math.

"If your cable/ISP bill was $100, then you ‘cut cable’ and now your bill is $50. Then you add a streaming service to compensate for your lack of cable…"

Since that isn’t how it works, let’s go back to where you stop presenting false assumption as the basis of your shilling, m’kay?

Because what you are claiming is that – literally – a significant majority of the US middle-class is unable to comprehend basic math or balance their own economy. You’re seriously trying to tell everyone here that a hundred million americans flunked grade school math?

Oh, wait. You are.

"Cutting cable is merely a band-aid on a bucket full of holes."

More like a tourniquet around an arterial laceration. ISP monopolization is a bad thing, surely, but it gets no better if you insist on retaining extra charges on top of the broadband bill.

"You and Pauly still don’t get it though."

Oh, I think we do. We’ve both pitched in on the debate around ISP monopolization but that isn’t the topic at hand. Cable cutting is, where a fundamentally shady business model is currently falling apart since customers, by the millions, are fleeing it now that there’s an alternative to having to buy and pay for a thousand sports channels just to get the half dozen you actually want.

rkhalloran (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 this again

My current bill for DirecTV is $160/month ($110 base, $30 set-top boxes, $10 “sports fee”, DVR service, no premium channels), gig fiber $80 (uncapped while bundled), PLUS taxes & “service fees”. Hulu Plus @ $63 for the comparable channel bundle, uncapped fiber resold by toast.net for $75. Not quite half-off. If AT&T and Roku ever get past the measuring contest, adding back the HBO Max for $15 still puts me ahead.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: this again

My cable bill was $270 a month. Cable (including HBO, Cinemax, Starz), one landline, and their cheapest internet. Now I pay $120 a month just for 1 gigabit/s internet. Even if you include the $40 pay for Amazon prime, Netflix, and Crunchyroll it’s still over a hundred dollars cheaper.

Oh wait, Comcast took Starz away without making my bill any cheaper.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: this again

The Play
Paraplegic home owner(PHO): Hey, little Dude, will you mow my yard every week? I’ll pay ya.
Lil’ Dude (also the only kid in the neighborhood willing to mow lawns–the rest are Fortnighting): Yeah, I’ll do it for $50 a week for the whole yard.
PHO: Great!
A year passes…introductory price ends…
Lil’ Dude: Morning. From now on the price is $100/week to mow your lawn.
PHO: What?!? What happened to $50/week? We had a deal.
Lil’ Dude: Yeah well you know; Corona, gas prices went up, lawn mower maintenance cost, etc…
PHO: OK then, just cut the front lawn and the sides of the house (cord cutter mentality)
Lil’ Dude: OK OK…$40/week.
PHO: OK (thinks to himself, ‘now I got a forest in the backyard – guess I better buy a goat’). Hey, Lil’ Dude, what am I gonna do about the back yard?
Lil’ Dude: I’ll rent you a weed eater.
PHO: OK. I’ll rent that weed eater from you and pay my nephew to get the backyard. Heck I might even trim it myself — I could use the exercise.
The End

Moral:
PHO is paying the original $50/week for less lawn service, plus he’s paying to rent the weed eater; hence, a higher over all bill (a la still paying your ISP for only internet access). Plus, he now has to either do the backyard himself -or- pay his nephew to do the backyard (a la pay for streaming services). And know this: Lil’ Dude is going to raise his $45/week again eventually.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: this again

Internet plus one or two streaming services, if required, is still cheaper than Cable. Note YouTube and friends exist, and have a lot of content. Also, streaming services have an advantage, they are view when the customers wants, rather than on the providers schedule. It is not just cost that is killing streaming services, but also convenience.

Sports is about the only market and other live streaming events will be the last bastion for cable, but the audience will be smaller than they think.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 this again

If it’s cheaper than cable TV, but you’re still paying The Same Company that you were previously paying before you canceled cable TV, is that company going to learn the lesson
–or–
is that company going to simply raise the price of internet service alone to make up for the lack of revenue from its previous Internet + Cable TV customers?

Greed (and shareholders) demand that The Same Company raise the price of internet access.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 this again

It’s one thing to raise prices.
The purpose of a business is to gain a profit…I get it.
A business is different than a charity…I get it.
The cost of raw materials might increase, or vendors (in this case, Content Creators) might raise their prices, and you pass that increased cost on to the customer…I get it.

But to raise prices while at the same time reduce the quantity of the product/service…NOPE. This is greed, plain & simple.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 this again

"But to raise prices while at the same time reduce the quantity of the product/service…NOPE. This is greed, plain & simple."

Yes it is. So, stop attacking the customers who don’t have a choice about who to use for one of the services, and attack the system that allows them to abuse customers for not buying inferior products.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 this again

"If it’s cheaper than cable TV, but you’re still paying The Same Company that you were previously paying before you canceled cable TV, is that company going to learn the lesson"

Yes, if you stop paying for products you don’t want the company shouldn’t need to take a 100% loss on non-related product lines to understand that people don’t want to pay for those products any more.

"xis that company going to simply raise the price of internet service alone to make up for the lack of revenue from its previous Internet + Cable TV customers?"

If they do, you should be doing something about the monopoly abuses that allows them to do that.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: this again

That’s a long argument to try to explain away that Cable is still vastly more expensive than paying for the internet and any choice of two-four streaming services, and that the cable channels similarly hike their prices to gouge the consumer even worse.

And you still have to pay the ISP for internet access whether you have cable or not, so your entire "argument" falls apart at the seams immediately.

Explain again why, now that you’ve explained how expensive broadband access can be, literally anyone should get themselves an extra service which adds even more expense?

Or we could just stay somewhat truthful and admit that Cable remains the more expensive and less flexible choice than netflix and HBO.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: this again

I will bite as I am a cord cutter. Comcast bill with Internet/TV $130. Had them give me an itemized list of all services. Had them remove everything so the only thing left was an active coax line. They were hesitant on giving me that list. They figured I needed some of the additional features to make sure internet worked. Purchased my own modem and got them the info needed to activate it. Bill now only $69. Fairly big drop in price. I don’t have another option but that was a fairly large reductions in costs for Comcast. Sure they might raise the bill on internet but I am already figuring out another option in case that happens.

rkhalloran (profile) says:

Re: this again

Yes, I get uncapped fiber ‘Net access from AT&T for bundling their VOIP and satellite TV service. They throw in HBO Max for free as a (minor) perk on top of that.

That contract expires in October, at which point we’re likely moving to Hulu Plus for TV and finally dumping the “landline” after 30 years in this house. Keeping the uncapped fiber service will cost another $30/month from the Deathstar, but an available reseller (toast.net) will provide uncapped service on the same fiber strand for $5 less than the bundled price I’ve been paying to SWBell, er, AT&T :-). I see little downside here, other than the dubious value of the HBO I can’t use on my Roku players anyway…

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Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

LOL that the cable and telco industry thinks that the cord cutting will slow down and then people will flock back… in their dreams. the whole reason people are cutting the cord is because of the damn cost for what the consumer receives, it just plain isn’t worth it..

You have channels you have no desire to have but are forced to take to get the channels you do want. there is the constant price increases to the service ( if you want to call it that ) that come very 4 to 6 months like clock work, the wonderful box rental fee that you can also count on increasing as long as your a subscriber, then all the other additional fees that they also like to jack up because you know why they hell not, then there is the wonderful bombardment of commercials and if you want something like HBO or any sports packages, well bend over because are you about to take one…for the team and the big conglomerate

The big telcos and cable co’s just dont get that the consumer is tired of being gouged at every turn for service they get, the channels they do want and forced to take the channels they dont want and the quartley price increases and fee and rental increases that you can set your calendar to.

Yes the motto of charge them more to increase profit with little improvement in service and no choice for the consumer is their death knell. Why wouldnt people leave when they can get streaming service cheaper even if they get 2 or 3 its can still be way cheaper than cable

I cut the cord years ago and despite my telco and cables co promotional eforts to win me back it isnt going to happen, I save myself 65.00 a month by not using their service and using the 3 streaming services I use… and I am more than happy

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PaulT (profile) says:

So… people with less income are more careful about what they are spending and cut back on luxuries, while people with more time on their hands will examine what they’re spending and work out the best value for money, rather than stick with whatever’s most convenient?

Not surprising. Anecdotally, I know a few people who were paying for full package that they might only watch for an hour after work every other night, and it just dawned of them how little value they get compared to Netflix.

"I think most single-family homes have big TVs in them and that’s where you get sports, that’s where you get news, that’s where you get live TV like this"

Well, he wasn’t necessarily wrong there, but – half the people who were paying for sports before weren’t interested in them to begin with, while the 24 hour news cycle has pretty much killed the value of live news for a lot of people. Add that to the fact that the kids aren’t watching any TV at all a lot of the time, and it’s easy to see what peoples’ priorities are.

"To be clear, the cable TV sector still lays claim to 77 million subscribers in the United States, even though that’s a drop of 7.5% year over year (another record)."

…and even that’s not due to people actually wanting it. I’ve seen plenty of stories over the years where people trying to cancel find out that the only options available in their monopoly/duopoly market for internet-only packages are kept at a higher price rate than packages that include TV. It can’t possibly cots them more to provide it, of course, so it’s just another way they’re keeping money by not having competition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What are they so desperate to keep up subscriber numbers? Is it to keep the program producers committed, rather than have them jump ship to a streaming service. YouTube and Patreon must be looking more and more attractive to program producers with small markets, as it gives them the widest possible audience reach.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Why should we advertise with you again?'

What are they so desperate to keep up subscriber numbers?

Two words: Advertising revenue.

It’s much easier to convince someone looking to advertise on your service that it’s worth the price you’re asking when you can present large subscriber numbers, and it becomes much harder to justify that price as the subscriber number gets smaller and smaller. As such they have a vested financial interest in keeping those numbers as high as they can, however they can.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Why should we advertise with you again?'

Well, if you’re a sane person who cares about the long term, that’s when you do whatever you can to not just keep your current subscribers but draw back ones that have left, so that the numbers accurately reflect reality again and your platform looks more appealing to advertisers.

If you’re a greedy schmuck who only cares about how much you can make right now on the other hand you simply jack up the prices for your current customers to make up for any losses, pretend that the whole thing is a minor, temporary setback, and claim that customers will be pouring back in once they realize how much they miss being gouged for inferior products.

teka says:

Re: Re: Re:3 'Why should we advertise with you again?'

Then you put in your minimum months and pull the ripcord to cash out a stack of bonuses, negotiated retention fees, rehire fees, stock options and/or actual straight cash pay and go work for someone else in the industry, advertising the amazing stock price gains and savings you created for your previous employer before the ticking bombs of service/etc you created go off.

Paul B says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Why should we advertise with you again?'

You have 2 major types of advertisers in the industry, Technical ones who care about cost of customer acquisition, and Budweiser chasers. The Technical ones may have already run away from TV services. Budweiser chasers are instead going after ever large ad campaign dollars and need places like TV to inflate the ad spend numbers.

Till marketing stops promoting people based on Ad Spend your gonna see spending even if its return on investment is very low.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Why should we advertise with you again?'

The advertisers still haven’t figured it out about internet targeted advertising, and look at the business model they are driving. More generally, advertising has never worked the way ad agencies (and platforms) want their clients to think it does. But clients have to do it because in part they are believers, in part because their competitors might be doing it, and in part because some small amount of the advertising might actually alert a potential customer to their existence. (Probably this is worth far less than the advertising costs in most cases, but whatever.)

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Years ago I cut the cord. I remember being outraged at the realization that a ton of my cable subscription price was going towards a bunch of sports channels that I didn’t even watch. I was rather convinced that there would be a-la-carte cable subscriptions by now, but the industry has steadfastly refused.

I think we’ve reached peak-sports, where professional teams and their related industries can’t squeeze any more from that turnip. Combine that with cancelled sports seasons, limited schedules, and people out of work. The result is a lot of people who are finally fed up and are now willing to cut the cord, just as I was. Cable media just didn’t deliver what viewers wanted, and now they’re going to pay the price.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s strange, but the guy does occasionally make a reasonable point when he’s not lying about section 230. We also tend to be fair around here. The point that the traditional cable package involved people who never watch sports subsidising those who did, and that this business model is unsustainable in a market where people can choose individual entertainment options is a reasonable one, and so people have indicated that this is so.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Is that Koby? With an insightful voted comment?!"

Yeah, that’s why we don’t immediately flag him when he comments the way we do "Shel10" or "Restless94110". Koby often has insights to offer as long as the topic isn’t about section 230. That’s when he elects to give his brain a break and lets the Stormfront echo chamber autopilot do the writing.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Outside of social media discussions they can actually make decent arguments and comments, which makes it all the more annoying and frustrating that they constantly throw out nothing but garbage when it comes to social media, like seeing someone who has demonstrated that they can paint well choose to eat the paint and then just spit at the canvas(mind, I’m sure that would sell to someone…).

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Dee Stewart says:

Cutting the Cord

The UK took over the US’s cable, cell phone, and utility companies, such as National Grid about 4 -5 yrs ago.. It’s called Global Capitalism under a Fascist Dictatorship who supports the Communist ideology for the feeders. The same scumbags taught the youth to HATE Capitalism,,, National Capitalism that is, where everyone has a opportunity,,, as they already were fully engaged in Global Capitalism, to take full control of all people, leaving the bottom 95% with no chance to advance. Don’t believe me, research it and find out for yourself.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Cutting the Cord

So your argument is that King George reconquered the United States by usurping all power over the US core utilities? And this, for some reason, is communism?

Mate, whether your problem is that you’re vague on the exact particulars of what reality looks like, have a massive problem with spelling simple words, or are ignorant of what words like "capitalism", "Communism" and "fascism" means, your comment makes no sense at all.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

"I think in aggregate they’re going to slow down,” said Rutledge. “Because I think most single-family homes have big TVs in them and that’s where you get sports, that’s where you get news, that’s where you get live TV like this. It’s still going to be under price pressure. I’m not saying the category isn’t under pressure. But I think the rate of decline will slow."

Hmm. Single family homes with big TVs are going to want 4K video. Which isn’t offered by cable where I am; it’s only available by streaming video.

ESPN is available in 4K via stream, without cable. News… is available from the TV company’s own websites, FOR FREE, and aggregating these via a streaming app gives you MORE options for news than cable, and you get to watch when you want, instead of when Cable puts it on. And for the most part, video news is just regurgitating what I already knew from my RSS feed the day before, but packaged up to pull on the emotions.

There’s absolutely nothing that Cable offers that I would possibly want. I already have more stuff I want to watch via streaming options than I could possibly watch in a day. All cable would do for me is provide me with the opportunity to pay more for stuff I’ll never watch and only at specific times when I’d never watch it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
nerdrage (profile) says:

sports is the last shoe to drop

News and live TV aren’t going to keep people with cable. Younger people see news as a free commodity, available all over the place and usually crap. Sports is really the last threshold keeping people with cable and when a good streaming sports solution emerges, it’s all over for cable (and broadcast). It might be a service like Disney+ or Paramount+ getting a decent sports capacity, it might be MLB.com, NFL.com etc streaming games on a standalone app, but whatever it is, it’s coming.

r_rolo1 (profile) says:

On the matter of sport channels ...

I would argue that, in a lot of sports, the teams already started cord cutting themselves by streaming their games in more or less generic streaming plataforms , starting by the amateur and lower leagues teams ( that were always the great losers of any negotiation about broadcast rights of sports, especially in sports where the rights are sold in bulk by a Big League ). Just go to, let’s say, youtube , and browse your sport of choice. You’ll see a lot of stream recordings and, if you do some searching, you’ll notice that the quantity of those streams have been increasing over the last 2-3 years ( minus 2020, because … 2020 )

In the end it is just a classic case of lowering costs opening the game to the excluded. I remember the stories that my father, a telecoms engineer, used to tell me of the weeks of grunt work he had to do every year to install infrastructure to cover the F1 Grand Prix in my contry in the 80’s and 90’s ( it involved the instalation of tons of extra cables for cameras, comms and such ). Nowadays … you could do a decent quality cover of a, let’s say, soccer game or similar with 4 cameras ( not necessary with cameramen attached, given the cheaper robotization options ), 300m of network cable, a computer and a live editor, 10-15k $ of investment in material and some extra in manpower.

It is just orders of magnitude cheaper to stream a event nowadays and it is clear than the ones that were getting the short side of the stick in the big networks sport channels deals are increasingly opting to simply stream themselves their team events. If this trend continues, it will be not just people being less interested in getting those bulk sports channels, but there will be more teams just jumping out of those to self-streaming their teams … not only less costumers, but also less content to sell. No exactly a winning proposition, if you ask me …

rkhalloran (profile) says:

Re: On the matter of sport channels ...

Notice how baseball & football have handled their restart: empty stands, a handful of camera crew spaced out around the venue (and I’d agree that could drop with some reasonable automation as is used in the overhead skycams), the “control board” for the game being managed from an offsite location and the announcers in 1+ other locations. With all that network traffic already flying around, how hard would it be to simply provide a livestream off said control board and charge appropriately? You subscribe to your favorite teams’ feeds and the league gets a cut. The assorted sports networks like ESPN get to pound sand.

r_rolo1 (profile) says:

Re: Re: On the matter of sport channels ...

The issue that made the teams and leagues to acept ESPN and similar entities in other countries behaviour was always the high entry cost and high running costs of maintaning the recording and broadcast equipement and specialized personnel. It was simply cheaper to any team to just make a contract waiving the broadcast rights for a couple of years to ESPN and receive some cash in front than buying the extremely expensive equipment, hire the necessary personnel to install and mantain it and hiring the cameramen + editor team necessary … and even more, how would they deliver it to the fans homes?

Today … well, we don’t have a lack of streaming sites and the costs to mount a streaming infrastructure are much more managable ( the 10-15k in materials figure I launched above was the estimate I gave a church last year for a fully robotized 4 camera streaming solution … ). If you, as a team, would receive peanuts from ESPN ( or similar ) because they would only transmit a game or two of yours, even streaming to youtube and getting the paultry ads revenue from it might be a more atractive proposition 😉

Awnsering your question, a NDI-Hx ( basically a bidirectional video-over-internet data protocol … it also includes metadata, so it can be used to control robotics and the cameras themselves ) 1080p 60fps video stream will typically use 50-100 Mbps . Sure , it is somewhat compressed ,but the streaming sites will compress much worse ( a typical Youtube stream will output near 4 Mbps for the same 1080p 60fps video input ), so that is not a issue.

If you have a Gigabit router and a minimally decent upload speed on site ( youtube will ingest 4 Mbps in average for a 1080p 60fps video stream, like I said above, so having 10 Mbps upload is enough if stable ) , it is very doable to just get some cameras with NDI inside, a decent laptop with OBS, some ethernet cable ( because wired internet is always more stable ) and just stream a game, ESPN be damned.

rkhalloran (profile) says:

this again

Yes, I get uncapped fiber ‘Net access from AT&T for bundling their VOIP and satellite TV service. They throw in HBO Max for free as a (minor) perk on top of that.

That contract expires in October, at which point we’re likely moving to Hulu Plus for TV and finally dumping the “landline” after 30 years in this house. Keeping the uncapped fiber service will cost another $30/month from the Deathstar, but an available reseller (toast.net) will provide uncapped service on the same fiber strand for $5 less than the bundled price I’ve been paying to SWBell, er, AT&T :-). I see little downside here, other than the dubious value of the HBO I can’t use on my Roku players anyway…

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