A New Low: Just 46% Of U.S. Households Subscribe To Traditional Cable TV
from the not-a-fad-after-all dept
The “cord cutting” trend cable execs spent a decade claiming was a fad just broke another round of new records. According to Leichtman Research, major cable TV providers lost another 1.7 million subscribers last quarter, as users flock to streaming, over the air TV, TikTok, or, you know, books. Roughly 17,700 customers cut the cord every single day during the second quarter of 2023.
Over the last year (Q2 ’22 to Q2 ’23) the traditional cable TV sector lost a whopping 5,360,000 customers, compared to 4,235,000 customer defections the year earlier. The current number of U.S. households that has a cable connection sits somewhere around 46 percent, down from 73% at the end of 2017.
Comcast wound up being among the biggest losers in the quarter, losing 543,000 paying customers:
Historically, a big cable company like Comcast or Charter wasn’t too hurt by “cord cutting” because it could just jack up the cost of monopolized broadband access. And while that’s still generally true; here too cable giants are seeing increased competition from community broadband (co-ops, utilities, municipalities), 5G home wireless, and phone companies belatedly upgrading to fiber.
Interestingly though, streaming TV providers also wound up losing subscribers, albeit at a much slower rate:
The shift from traditional cable to streaming had some very obvious benefits. Lower costs, greater flexibility in choice, and even better customer service.
At the same time, as the streaming sector pursues quarterly growth, it’s increasingly adopting the kind of tactics that made cable TV so unpopular: relentless price hikes, shitty labor practices, and annoying new restrictions on usage. That, in turn, is driving more people to even less traditional services like Twitch or TikTok as the cycle of innovative disruption stumbles ever forth.