1.28 Million US Residents Cut The TV Cord Last Quarter

from the head-in-the-sand dept

It seems like only yesterday that the TV sector was busy insisting that TV cord cutting was a "fiction." Once that claim was proven hollow by the data, plenty of industry folks shifted toward claiming that the trend was being over-hyped and only temporary. Many claimed the trend would reverse itself once the housing markets stabilized (didn't happen) or Millennials started to procreate (didn't happen). Often, angry users who cut the cord (usually due to high prices or terrible customer service) were brushed side by executives and analysts as being irrelevant nobodies.

And while many in the TV sector now like to insist they saw the problem coming all along, it's genuinely embarrassing how many industry execs tried to wish the rise of additional competition away, believing that if they stuck their head deeply enough in terra firma, this major industry trend would just somehow go away.

It's not going away. With 2019's first quarter earnings in the books, data indicates that cord cutting continues to heat up, with another 1.28 million American consumers ditching traditional cable TV in the first quarter alone.

American cable giants like Comcast and Charter Spectrum were hard hit, but not quite as badly as satellite TV providers, who are losing customers in droves:

"Both Charter and Comcast saw their pay TV subscriber losses accelerate this quarter. Charter lost a net 145,000 video subscribers, up from 111,000 one year ago, and Comcast lost a net 121,000 video subscribers, up from 96,000 one year ago.

But it was DirecTV and Dish Network that sustained the most damage. AT&T’s total net video losses during the quarter totaled 627,000 – a net loss of 544,000 traditional video subscribers and 83,000 streaming TV subscribers. Dish lost approximately 266,000 satellite subscribers, a number that was only partially offset by 7,000 added Sling TV subscribers.

The irony here is that companies like AT&T actually saw the cord cutting threat coming and tried to get out ahead of it by offering a streaming service of their own (DirecTV Now). But AT&T's obsession with growth for growth's sake resulted in it paying more than $150 billion on mega mergers (DirecTV in 2015 and Time Warner in 2018) that saddled it with oceans of debt. To pay down this debt, AT&T began imposing annoying rate hikes on its streaming and traditional TV customers alike, only accelerating the defections. Not a brilliant strategy in hindsight.

Those best positioned to fight off the cord cutting threat remain cable giants like Charter Spectrum and Comcast. They've increasingly enjoyed significant regional monopolies over broadband. As a result they've imposed (technically) unnecessary usage caps and overage fees that not only jack up the cost of broadband overall, but punish those users who migrate to streaming with additional monthly costs. In other words, as they lose money on TV from competition, they'll just extract their pound of flesh in the form of higher broadband bills on captive customers stuck in markets with zero meaningful broadband competition.

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Filed Under: broadband, cable, cut the cord, tv


Reader Comments

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  1. icon
    FlatZOut (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 12:43pm

    Dad: “Honey, the cable’s on the fritz again!”
    Mom: ‘cuts the tv cord
    Dad: “It’s still on the fritz!”
    Son: “They didn’t mean to cut the cord literally

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 12:44pm

    Often, angry users who cut the cord (usually due to high prices or terrible customer service)

    Zoidberg-why-not-both dot jpeg

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 12:52pm

    Meet the new cord...same as the old cord...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 1:09pm

    stuck their head deeply enough in terra firma

    stuck their head deeply enough in their asses (ftfy)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 1:15pm

    Bold of you to assume cable executives have anuses or otherwise resemble humans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    We finally did it 2 months ago and that is precisely why.

    However Comcast has a monopoly on broadband in our town of 5,000. I really enjoy Karl's articles here, perhaps he could write something about the community broadband movement. I think it's an important thing for consumers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Gary (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 1:40pm

    Re:

    Reptiles have a cloaca.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Vic, 13 May 2019 @ 1:45pm

    Yep-yep. I did it this quarter... Bye-bye DirecTV/AT&T!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    afn29129 David (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 1:53pm

    crapp content as well

    "Often, angry users who cut the cord (usually due to high prices or terrible customer service)".... Nothing worth watching as well.

    I took my TV to the landfill about 17 yrs ago. It was so much fun pushing the thing off the back of the truck and hearing the thing shatter. And I haven't missed it one bit!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 2:11pm

    The dumber America gets, the dumber its entertainment has to get.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Thad (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 2:29pm

    Re: crapp content as well

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    David Longfellow, 13 May 2019 @ 3:13pm

    No one to blame but themselves

    The satellite providers continually raised prices and started cutting service.
    What did they expect?
    Same with the cable companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    Beat me to that punchline eh.

    Mind you all their visionary visions is hindsight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    mhajicek (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Just sit tight for a bit; LEO satellite broadband is coming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Federico (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 11:42pm

    Community broadband, municipal broadband, local loop unbundling

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Lord Lidl of Cheem (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 2:36am

    Clearly they've not made unsubscribing hard enough....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 2:41am

    Comcast + Charter pay TV in one quarter (90 days) loses 256 000 customers.

    That is 2844 customers every day.

    Oooops.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    afn29129 David (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 3:22am

    Re: How low can they go!

    Limbo low now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    'To cancel service please send a hand written letter, carried by federally certified pony express riders, containing your name, address, account number, email, phone number, a verified cure for all forms of cancer, a legally certified record of how many times you blinked during the twenty-third of last month, your date of birth...'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    rebrad (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 5:46am

    Irrelevant Nobodies

    Not getting political but weren't these Irrelevant Nobodies that were brushed side by industry executives and analysts the same people that elected Trump? Some people refuse to listen and we all pay as a result.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re:

    Best part is that some of the reptilians out there are more considerate/empathetic/... than your average cable exec...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 6:57am

    Re: No one to blame but themselves

    You forgot the media folks continually raising prices

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 7:34am

    What is a cord cutter?

    Last month we switched from DirectTV to Hulu. Are we cord cutters? If so, then I don't think the term means a whole lot. Our bill and channel lineup is about the same.

    If cord cutting means you no longer pay for television, then that probably is a big deal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    TFG, 14 May 2019 @ 8:17am

    Re: What is a cord cutter?

    Yep. You're a cord cutter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: What is a cord cutter?

    Then I don't think the term means a whole lot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2019 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Do they pay you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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