Cord Cutting Is Setting Records In 2019

from the adapt-or-perish dept

Remember cord cutting? The trend that cable and broadcast execs and countless sector analysts spent years claiming either wasn't real, or didn't matter because it would end once Millennials started procreating?

Well it's still very real, and once again the rate of traditional TV cancellations is setting records. The second quarter is looking to be particularly ugly, with giants like AT&T, Comcast, and Charter Spectrum all seeing big losses, but with AT&T's being particularly ugly:

"But so far this quarter Comcast, AT&T and Charter have reported losing more than 1.25 million subscribers. “As a result of this bloodshed, we are estimating that the rate of traditional cord-cutting will reach 5.5% in 2019 (the worst rate it has ever been),” Nathanson said.

"Even adding back virtual MVPD subscribers, the drop will be 2.7%, a new low,” he said, adding “we would expect that this trend will continue to accelerate over the back-end of 2019."

Again, customers are tired of paying an arm and a leg for a giant bundle of channels they don't watch. So they're axing traditional TV and shifting over to streaming video providers the data says not only offer cheaper, more flexible options, but far better customer service. Or they're getting this content via an over the air antenna (for free), or via piracy. With a number of high-profile streaming options just over the horizon from the likes of Apple and Disney, competition in the space is only going to accelerate.

And while many traditional cable TV companies have responded to this surge in competitors by offering their own streaming alternatives, that's no sure thing either. Just ask AT&T, which not only lost 778,000 traditional video users last quarter, but 168,000 subscribers from its streaming video alternative, DirecTV Now. Why? AT&T gobbled up so many companies in its bid to dominate the space, it became one of the most indebted companies in the world. When it raised streaming TV prices to try and recoup some of this debt, customers unsurprisingly headed for the exits.

Of course it's always worth reiterating that these giant telecom and TV operators have an ace in the hole: the monopoly they hold over broadband access in many markets. Limited competition means they can respond to the loss in video revenue by jacking up the price of broadband. Worse, limited competition means these companies can impose anti-competitive (and utterly technically unnecessary) usage caps and overage fees they'll often use as a competitive bludgeon. Many of these efforts simultaneously jack up your broadband bill, and punish you should you choose a streaming video alternative to their own TV offerings.

With the recent death of net neutrality, it's likely there's a universe of "creative" anti-competitive behaviors these natural monopolies haven't been able to implement yet. Should the rules not be restored, that's likely to change quickly over the next few years, and the impact on your bandwidth bill (and the competitive streaming playing field) isn't likely to be subtle.

Filed Under: cord cutting, internet, tv
Companies: at&t, charter, comcast


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Zof (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:28pm

    The bigger problem...

    Is that outside of a handful of good shows that somehow get a free pass, most shows have been diminished or outright ruined with pointless politics. The worst are the shows that went all in on russian conspiracy theory plots that look ridiculous now in light of that all being a hoax. I used to watch about 9 or 10 weekly shows, a few daily shows, and maybe 2 or 3 anime in a given season. Now that's all flipped. As television got worse, Anime got amazing.

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

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 12:59pm

      Re: The bigger problem...

      Um, what are you talking aboot?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:54pm

        Re: Re: The bigger problem...

        He's been trolling every discussion thread with that falsehood, tying it in to whatever the thread is discussing to normalize the falsehood.

        Here's my list of responses to his comments:

        1. Politics isn't pointless.

        2. Changing the narrative through lying isn't the same as politics, no matter how much some politicians recently seem to equate the two.

        3. Good shows don't get a free pass.

        4. Most shows have pretty much avoided politics unless the show is about politics. However, this doesn't mean they've avoided political issues. That's not because of the politics though, that's because they're culturally relevant issues, even if the show takes a slant you disagree with.

        5. There was no "Russian Conspiracy Theory" except the one being pushed as such by Fox and Friends. In Liberal circles, there was handwaving about Russian interference, and a desire to see how much the Trump election campaign was involved. The result of that was that the Trump campaign obstructed the investigation, which looked fishy in itself, but seems to have been more reactive to the GRU meddling than working in tandem with them. But people still want to know why Trump was working so hard to obstruct the investigation -- it could just be due to the fact that he knew he was innocent and suspected that everyone was out to get him.

        6. Watching more than a couple of hours of TV a day is unhealthy.

        7. For the most part, TV has always been bad. Each network has a few good shows, and pads around them with filler. I find I tend to stream instead of watching live because for each show I enjoy, there's usually about 10-30 minutes of content I actually want to watch, and the rest is padding that adds nothing to the viewing enjoyment. This has nothing to do with politics, or even social commentary.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 2:00am

        Re: Re: The bigger problem...

        I think he's saying that he's offended that some TV dares to address social and political issues that the right-wing echo chamber tells him are bad, so he's resorted to watching foreign-made fantasy shows where he's safe from real issues from being discussed.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:29pm

      Someone’s angry that a majority of shows on television aren’t cheap-ass ripoffs of Last Man Standing. Your complaints about politics ring hollow because the shows you’re complaining about have politics with which you disagree. (As for Last Man Standing? I disagree with its politics, but it’s also a horribly unfunny show even if you somehow negate the conservative overtones.)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:43pm

      Re: The bigger problem...

      So, you prefer watching weird cartoons. Got it.

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

      • icon
        Madd the Sane (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 4:53pm

        Re: Re: The bigger problem...

        Some have better plots than 90% of the new TV shows.

        Also, cartoon doesn't mean children's show. See Animation Age Ghetto on TVTropes.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 4:58pm

          Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

          Nothing wrong with Anime. Zof is just butthurt because there aren't enough white people on his TV.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 2:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

            I personally love it when right-wing nuts start talking about how politics is suddenly being injected into TV. Erm, it always has been geniuses. Remember MAS*H, for example? The entire damn show was addressing Vietnam though the thin veneer of setting it in the Korean War. If you've only just noticed that political opinion is rife in fiction writing, you might be... well, you might be dumb enough to be Zof.

            Although, I've love him to mention which anime he watches. There's a good chance that some of it still addresses politics, it's just not overt enough for him to have noticed it yet.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 3:12am

              Re: Probably showing my age.

              Oh you just know that he’d stop watching Cowboy Bebop when he found out Ed’s a girl.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 7:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

              "politics is suddenly being injected into TV"

              It was there all along, it just did not register in the minds of those who agree with the whistles.

              Let us not forget the jabs included in loony tunes, some of those were actually funny. Those cartoons were removed because they were supposedly violent, yeah right - look at what replaced them: power rangers, ninja turtles ... these are not violent at all are they.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 11:03am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

                loony tunes
                Let's not forget how old those are. It seems a lot of people forget that there were many entries that were straight up war propaganda. If that ain't political, then I don't know what is.

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 6:47pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

                  Also, unless I'm mistaken it's things like overt racism that gets them less showing nowadays rather than violence, although there was a short time when they were the target of the "for the children!" crowd (before they moved on elsewhere).

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            don, 1 Aug 2019 @ 12:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

            Wow, you sure do hate white people. What's with all the INTOLERANCE and HATE? Hypocritical b*tch. Keep it up. Keep poking us whites. And if you're white, then GROW A SPINE & STOP BEING SUCH A CUCK. I don't read replies.

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

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              don, 1 Aug 2019 @ 1:02pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

              Also, the reason there are less whites in TV is because Jews run the media, and Jews hate whites. They use browns as a weapon against whites, and the dumb brown masses follow along like the children they are. Face it: whites are the pinnacle of human evolution, and browns are being ARTIFICIALLY propped up by Jews. Left to their own devices, browns would revert to the primitive inbred cannibals they are. Jews, browns, Asians... THEY ARE JEALOUS OF WHITES. JEALOUSY BREEDS HATE. Remember that you pieces of sh*t. WHITE POWER. I don't read replies.

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

        • icon
          Samuel Abram (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 5:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

          Also, cartoon doesn't mean children's show.

          Exactly. And even given target age demographic, some may respect their viewership's intelligence more than others. As an example, compare Dragon Ball (as in the original 1980's one, not Z or Super) to (1980's) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; I would say that Dragon Ball treated their audience as more sophisticated than anything the heroes in a halfshell ever did.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 5:10am

          Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

          I dispute your claim. Anime is crap for children.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 5:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

            I dispute your claim. Anime is objectively a medium, which can be used for anything from childrens' entertainment to examination of serious political and social subjects. The fact that Americans seem more interested in one type of anime does not mean that the rest of it does not have those extra qualities.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 2:02am

        Re: Re: The bigger problem...

        There's nothing wrong with watching anime on its face.

        But, watching it specifically because you're scared of people with different political opinions using their work to discuss and address them? That's weird.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 5:12am

          Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

          "There's nothing wrong with watching anime on its face."

          Yes, there is. It means you have really horrible tastes. I don't know what it has to do with politics.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 5:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The bigger problem...

            Well, that's your opinion, and I'm glad you've shared the fact that you dislike something. Now, move along while the adults are talking.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 3:15pm

      Re: This is your brain on zof, any questions?

      Ignorant, willfully obtuse and stupid, Ain’t no way to go through life bro.

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

  • icon
    hij (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 1:37pm

    Olympic Year

    The Summer Olympics will be next year. If this trend holds through next year then it will be a huge problem for local television. NBC has been pushing its streaming coverage in hockey, cycling, and the Olympics. If they can get a boost for their sports app then it will be a big knock against ESPN. Sports has a big impact on television viewing, and it will be interesting to see how this will shift the media influence in sports.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 2:27pm

    Karl argues in this post that people are cutting the cord to stop paying for the bundled shovelware.

    I'd argue he's wrong there: people see some intrinsic value in having all those extra shows available that may contain some gems. This doesn't tend to trigger cord cutting.

    What triggers cord cutting is when you can't reliably watch the show you are following because they keep moving the time slots.

    What also triggers cord cutting is filling larger and larger parts of the show window not only with ads, but also with show recaps after the ads, flash previews before the ads, and product placements within the shows that have nothing to do with the plot itself.

    At that point, what any sane person would do is say "screw it, I'll wait for the season to end, then skip to the good parts in each episode via a streaming provider on a binge weekend."

    After all: NetFlix has WAY more filler available to their customers at any given moment than the traditional networks do, for a much lower price. People are happy to subsidize fringe shows and stuff they'll never watch themselves if it means they get a reasonable viewing experience when and where they want it, built around THEIR time schedule instead of some arbitrary schedule designed to attract new viewers to a show.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2019 @ 6:35pm

      Re:

      And here I thought it was the price

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

    • icon
      ladyattis (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 9:27am

      Re:

      I have to agree on the time shift thing. It's what irks me about CBS All Access and Star Trek Discovery. I don't understand why they won't release all at once and let users watch at their leisure? I don't want to wait until it's released on a specified time. It's not proper television in the older sense of air TV. So why make us wait?

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 9:36am

        Re: Re:

        "why they won't release all at once and let users watch at their leisure"

        Because the majority of people who would subscribe just for Star Trek don't have anything else on the platform they'd want to subscribe for, and CBS know this. They put it out piecemeal so that people have to subscribe for a few months.

        For what it's worth, it's doled out the same outside of the US, but at least we get to watch it on a service we'd normally subscribe to without the show (Netflix).

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 31 Jul 2019 @ 7:02pm

    Ok,,

    More Local news..
    Less opinion pieces..
    For around $100 one time fee, to install a simple Antenna above your home.. it becomes FREE.. (in in hte country and get over 20 channels) And a Major metro should be getting Tons more channels.
    But if you look...its very strange what channels you are getting.

    Why do I need Tons of channels showing the Same basic ideas for shows.
    How many judge shows, Cop shows, Fed investigations, the Police always get their man/woman..And Repeats of he same that was on another channels last month..

    Some thing to think about.
    In the past there were Allot of local programming, and regional channels..ASK TURNER(yes thats a person), that would show allot of stuff.. But most RURAL areas tended to have 4-10 channels.. VERY FEW independent..CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and a few others were all of then..
    Along with the movie/theater industry... You can count the number of NEW things on TV..allot of repeats.. and ALLOT of other things to do, besides watch TV..
    Cable TV got us 40 channels..from Local stations around he country..

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

  • identicon
    patinibesle, 1 Aug 2019 @ 3:22am

    They are changing the life of TV thoroughly. Cartoons should not be related to politics can be educational

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 5:26am

    People have the choice, use over the air antenna,get netflix, watch youtube, will be a good deal for most people .
    so there is money to be saved by cutting the cord .
    housing expense,s ,rent has gone up alot in the last 5 years in america.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 7:41am

      Re:

      Yup

      The way in which government measures inflation is intended to give business a break, they can claim the low or lack of raises is because inflation is so low ... this rings a bit hollow for those who work full time and yet struggle paying rent and eating - paying medical is out of the question for many. But inflation is low ... sure it is. The middle class has not seen an increase in wages for decades (adjusted for inflation lol).

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 1 Aug 2019 @ 1:11pm

      Re:

      AC..
      there is a problem.
      There are many Areas and groups that will Not, let you install Antenna.
      And every other service, Costs money.
      Try saving $100 per per month, and the only recourse you have is another source that costs you Almost as much..
      Love HOA..and the abuse. An HOA could ask to setup 1 Good antenna and send the signal to a Whole Local area, very easily. But they wont. its Ugly..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2019 @ 7:24am

    Millenials grew up with a rapid change of analog to digital and gen Z is born into digital.

    Why the hell would we find it natural or worth any amount of money to be told when we can watch a show AND pay money to see advertisements.

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

  • icon
    fairuse (profile), 6 Aug 2019 @ 5:42pm

    Cord Cutting

    There are broadcast networks OTA. There are cable networks - mostly owned by broadcast networks. There is sports - cash cow. There is so-called-premium producers - HBO/Cinemax/Showtime.

    Cutting the cord results if cable networks become replay channels. Cop shows from broadcast run nonstop. The problem cable has is appeal to a broad audience. And all ondemand is controlled by rights holders.

    When the bullshit level gets high enough users walk. Case in point is Cinemax dropped from bundle and priced as much as Netflix; Comcast is contract bound.

    Content contracts for quality series or movies on cable are invisible to us -- then your favorite series goes away.

    Sports - Don't get me started. I watch auto racing and horse racing. That means the 400 stick & ball sports are dead to me. Auto racing is moving to streaming but has to get TV guys (NBCsn,CBSsn, Fox Sports) on the track, so queue the ad breaks.

    Prime Time big 3, I mean 4 - Nothing to get me to DVR.

    Weather channel is an all day morning show. Science Channel is looping everything. Food networks? Ew. The only network to do something new is START - female cop shows from the archive (Cold Case!)

    So, cable can do interesting programming if networks play nice.

    However, the constricting factor is price. I'm feeling underserved when paying more for less is normal.

    it's the quality series that keep cable valid. Remember at cable start - Crazy sci-fi, drama that did not cause brain fail, and Ron Harris.

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

The Last Word

Cord Cutting

There are broadcast networks OTA. There are cable networks - mostly owned by broadcast networks. There is sports - cash cow. There is so-called-premium producers - HBO/Cinemax/Showtime.

Cutting the cord results if cable networks become replay channels. Cop shows from broadcast run nonstop. The problem cable has is appeal to a broad audience. And all ondemand is controlled by rights holders.

When the bullshit level gets high enough users walk. Case in point is Cinemax dropped from bundle and priced as much as Netflix; Comcast is contract bound.

Content contracts for quality series or movies on cable are invisible to us -- then your favorite series goes away.

Sports - Don't get me started. I watch auto racing and horse racing. That means the 400 stick & ball sports are dead to me. Auto racing is moving to streaming but has to get TV guys (NBCsn,CBSsn, Fox Sports) on the track, so queue the ad breaks.

Prime Time big 3, I mean 4 - Nothing to get me to DVR.

Weather channel is an all day morning show. Science Channel is looping everything. Food networks? Ew. The only network to do something new is START - female cop shows from the archive (Cold Case!)

So, cable can do interesting programming if networks play nice.

However, the constricting factor is price. I'm feeling underserved when paying more for less is normal.

it's the quality series that keep cable valid. Remember at cable start - Crazy sci-fi, drama that did not cause brain fail, and Ron Harris.

—fairuse

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