42% Of Us Homes Have Ditched Cable TV And Gone Broadband Only

from the meet-the-new-boss dept

For more than a decade, cable TV executives brushed aside the idea of cable TV “cord cutting” as either a nonexistent threat or a temporary phenomenon that wound end once Millennials started procreating. Of course, none of that wound up being true, and consumer defections from the bloated, pricey traditional cable TV bundle continue to set records during the COVID crisis.

New data indicates that as of the end of last year, 27% of U.S. homes have ditched traditional cable and now subscribe only to broadband, up from 9% just three years earlier. The number of households that only watch TV using over the air antennas (OTA) also slowly ticked up to 15 percent. All told, 42% of American homes no longer have cable TV, a number that’s only going to grow.

The three year trajectory shift is fairly stark when you lay it all out in graphic form:

Don’t feel too bad for cable TV giants like Comcast and Charter, however. While they might be losing traditional cable TV market share to streaming, TikTok, YouTube, video games, and good-old-fashioned rooftop antennas, they continue to be growing their monopoly over the fixed-line broadband access that powers it all, especially at the kind of next-generation speeds most users are looking for (100 Mbps and above).

As a result Comcast and friends can generally recoup any losses on the TV end by nickel-and-diming you to death on the broadband end, whether that’s with obnoxious sneaky fees or usage caps and overage charges that serve no technical function beyond ripping off captive subscribers.

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Comments on “42% Of Us Homes Have Ditched Cable TV And Gone Broadband Only”

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Naughty Autie says:

This is why I’ve never had cable or Sky. Those double-dipping bastards can fuck right off. I’m so glad I live in the UK, where aerial TV has to be paid for. Because of this, our government has never deprecated it the way the US Government has allowed public TV to be deprecated, simply because of the outrage that would occur if they did. “We’re paying our TV licences, so why are we only getting three channels of pure rubbish?”

PaulT (profile) says:


Even if you end up paying the same dollar amount, there’s a big difference between paying for the broadband connection you use, and paying for 300 channels you never watch.

The next step is presumably work on the price gouging that’s allowed on the former due to monopolies and collusion, but that’s easier to address when most customers are only using the one service.

Anonymous Coward says:

At least by ditching cable you are not paying for fox TV or sports channels you don’t watch. The problem is americans are paying extra by lack of competition in broadband which politicians who recieve donations from Att and Comcast are happy to ignore, the only hope is Community broadband will spread to more city’s and states

darryl says:

Why they think people with kids need cable is beyond me!

Why would they think settling down requires cable. Netflix & Disney have no ads. No interruptions to watching stuff. My kids hardly know what an ad is. If you pay for YouTube it is also pretty good.

I am excluding Prime as they have started playing pre-run ads on all content for other Prime shows. What I don’t need is an ad for some horror movie or other not appropriate content popping up in front of Pete the Cat. Prime really needs kids profiles.

Anonymous Coward says:


You seem to be referencing the “temporary phenomenon” link, which says the industry people are claiming that and provides no evidence they actually think it. Maybe they don’t. Or maybe they do, because if they were actually in touch with “millenials”, they wouldn’t be working be working in the linear-television-subscription business, would they?

I see little reason anyone under 50-60 years of age would choose to work in that business, other than “they drove a dump truck full of money up to my house”—which, as their core subscribers either die or get fed up with the price increases needed to fill those dump tricks, becomes less sustainable every day.

Naughty Autie says:


I don’t have to pay for YouTube to avoid the ads. As soon as one starts playing, I back out of the page and go back, and the video begins playing without an advert. Saves me tons of data on my capped mobile broadband. I started doing this in response to Alphabet’s insistence on knowing where I am in one of two ways, putting me in Greater London on Google Search and in the Netherlands on YouTube because I won’t tell them my location via GPS and their triangulation is pants.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I wasn’t aware it could block Youtube’s video ads—I wonder whether that’s bad design on Youtube’s part, or an intentional hole. Youtube-dl is another way to avoid them (assuming you don’t pass the experimental –include-ads option), and means you can still watch the video if it’s later taken down.

Anonymous Coward says:


The whole reason cable TV—originally Community Antenna TeleVision (CATV)—was invented was to relay broadcast signals, particularly those blocked by terrain. It was another 30 years before cable-only channels became common.

But, I see little reason why linear over-the-air programming would become popular again. It has all of the downsides of cable, except the cost. The schedule, the ads, the government (FCC) censorship, the pre-emption for football etc. It’s a reality I’m aware of and am choosing to ignore.

Anonymous Coward says:


There is another reality, that FEW remembered about the Local Wireless TV signals. I know people in California that can get 20+ Local channels, that DONT know it. And cable/sat generally reproduces those.

I’m in a small town on the Ontario-New York border. We’re primarily served by Watertown NY locals (18 digital subchannels from three full-power and two low-power stations, including all of the majors CBS PBS ABC FOX NBC CW in wide-screen HD for free).

We used to get four or five channels OTA from Canada. Unfortunately, the main networks are mostly controlled by the same few oligopoly corps who control DBS and CATV, and they’re systematically destroying small-town OTA while that country’s broadcast regulator looks the other way. Instead of 2 Global, 6 CTV, 11 CBC, 32 Radio-Canada, 38 TVO we’re down to our last Canadian network (Global) on 11. Everything else is either disaffiliated, broadcasting duplicative content, has gone off the air or is going off the air. There’s nothing of value on any of the extra digital subchannels in Canada as the CRTC requires a separate licence (along with a long list of absurd obligations, such as an hour or two a day of local news) be met again for every additional subchannel – an insurmountable, costly barrier. So OTA dies in small-town Canada. The mess the FCC creates stateside makes that country look like a glorious workers’ paradise by comparison.

Whoever says:

What about the basic cable only subscribers

I still have cable, but we subscribe to the most basic option. I think that most of the cost of the basic cable subscription is offset by a discount against the Internet service.

Technically, we still have cable, but I pay $100/month less that we did before transitioning to the basic cable option.

Anonymous Coward says:

A lot of that could be the felony streaming law by Thom Tillis which was written to that the end user who views content cannot be prosecuted, only the purveyors.

One of these pirate sites at just $15/month has every cable channel under the sun, and since they operate from China, American laws do not apply.

They are fully licensed in China, are operating legally and paying taxes in China, and that is all that matters.

American laws do not apply to services in China, so they can never be prosecuted in the United States, because none of their servers are in the United States and are all in Shenzen, China. The United States government has no jurisdiction in China.

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