TV 'Cord Cutters' Will Be The Majority By 2022

from the from-fringe-to-mainstream dept

The broadcast and TV sector spent the last fifteen years trying to claim that TV cord cutting (cancelling traditional TV and going with streaming or antenna broadcasts) wasn't a real thing, or that it was only something done by losers. But it's the cord cutters who'll be getting the last laugh.

A new study (pdf) by the Convergence Research Group indicates that cord cutting, once denied to exist at all by the cable TV sector, is about to get even hotter. According to the report, 36% of US homes didn't pay for "traditional" cable TV at the end of a particularly bloody year for the pay TV sector. The group estimates that total will grow to 42% of US households in 2020, and finally topple into a majority of consumers (54%) by 2022. That in turn is contributing to a notable drop in revenue from the major cable TV providers, down from $100 billion in 2019 to a predicted $94.8 billion this year.

If you're worried about major giants like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon struggling, you shouldn't. While their video profits will erode, their monopoly over broadband means they'll simply be recouping that lost revenue by jacking up the price of your broadband connection (including usage caps and overage fees) in the massive number of uncompetitive US broadband markets:

"Being caught in the programmer versus independent OTT squeeze play hampers TV access provider revenue & margins, however as TV access providers are also Internet providers there are also benefits to facilitating the rise of OTT. Annual residential broadband revenue has more than doubled over the last decade & we forecast 2022 residential broadband access revenue will X with 2022 TV access revenue. Residential broadband subs surpassed TV subs in 2017."

Another report by Trade Desk suggests that the pandemic will only accelerate the trend. In large part because one of the last major reasons people cling to fat, over-priced cable TV bundles (sports) are on hold for the foreseeable future:

"The company found that 64% of Americans have either cut the cord, are planning to drop their pay-TV subscriptions, or never subscribed in the first place. Of those households that do still have cable TV subscriptions, 11% plan to cut the cord by the end of the year. Trade Desk surveyed 2,600 Americans for the study."

“With only a quarter of young professionals having any long-term interest in traditional cable TV, in a few years we won’t be talking about linear or cable TV at all. It will all be online and streaming,” said Brian Stempeck, Chief Strategy Officer, The Trade Desk. “For broadcasters and advertisers, it’s now all about how quickly they can pivot to where the eyeballs are moving and many of them are already investing heavily in order to succeed in a world of connected TV.”

It's not like the TV and broadcast sector didn't have the better part of the last decade to prepare for this trend. But with the exception of a few companies most in the sector just keep pretending this trend didn't exist, cozy and warm in their bogus belief that traditional TV would be a cash cow they could happily nurse for all eternity without ever having to innovate or (gasp) compete on price.

Filed Under: cord cutters, predictions, tv


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2020 @ 4:33pm

    What's that sound?

    Can you hear that? It's there, just below the sound of that mosquito flying around... It sounds like... a violin. Like the world's smallest violin.

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

  • icon
    Code Monkey (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 4:40pm

    Cut the cord 8 or 9 years ago....

    ..never looked back.

    Now, if you want to come back, and offer me the chance to buy only the channels I actually watch (which is maybe a dozen.....) and charge me something reasonable (imma be generous and say $2.00 apiece), then sure, give me a call and we can talk.

    Until then, Mr. Cable Provider, here's a dollar. Go down the street to the Starbucks, stand in line (socially distant, wear a mask), wait politely in line, and then, when the barrista motions you forward, order yourself a venti, half caff, half soy cup of stfu.

    Regards.....

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

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 5:07pm

    Xfinity (Comcast) pricing

    I've been a cord cutter for a long time... except I'm now tied to the Comcast cord. I'm not buying ``channels'' but now I have to pay a nice bit to have sufficient outbound bandwidth.*

    To truly cut the cord we'd have to develop mesh networks and have a datacenter with bandwidth somewhere in the mesh. Unfortunately that business plan has failed in high density cities

    I'd love to see REAL cord-cutters succeed. No Comcast, no Charter, no other telcos or last-mile providers with a mono/duo-poly.

    E

    • Outbound bandwidth, also considered "upload" is used for off-site backup of critical devices (laptops, etc.) and security NVR footage.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Apr 2020 @ 1:02am

      Re: Xfinity (Comcast) pricing

      "I'd love to see REAL cord-cutters succeed. No Comcast, no Charter, no other telcos or last-mile providers with a mono/duo-poly."

      I've mentioned this numerous times on similar threads, but the answer to that is effective regulation, which has been consistently dismantled and opposed in the US. I have none of the problems associated with the US market because real competition is forced and net neurality is still protected. That means I have access to numerous competing providers at reasonable prices, consistent speeds, there's no such thing as a bandwidth cap on non-mobile connections and there's never any notable difference in speeds between my ISP's own video service and competing 3rd party services. (for reference, I just used fast.com to do a quick check on my domestic 600Mpbs fibre optic connection and got a result of 590 Mbps down / 310 Mbps up)

      The way we got there was effective regulation - local and national monopolies were either broken up or forced to open up last mile infrastructure to competitors, and consumer regulations mean that many of the tricks used by US ISPs are outright illegal. I fear that, until such regulation is introduced effectively to the US market, you won't see any change. Even when it does, it would likely take a generation to see the differences - local loop unbundling was the first step toward achieving improvements I've experienced in both the UK and Spain but the biggest advantages were seen when new infrastructure was built, not necessarily on the original monopoly infrastructure.

      Here's hoping things change for you, but I'm not seeing any chance of that under the current administration. In fact, Pai's regime appears to have been dedicated to making things worse for consumers, and I have no doubt that if alternate connection types become viable, the legacy ISPs would find a way to help write them out of operation.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2020 @ 1:47am

        Re: Re: Xfinity (Comcast) pricing

        I fear that, until such regulation is introduced effectively to the US market,

        And that requires that they get rid of the political patronage and short term appointments of the leaders of the regulatory agencies.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 29 Apr 2020 @ 2:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Xfinity (Comcast) pricing

          I does, there's no easy answer unfortunately and it has to be change on a fundamental level to get there. I just like to stress that it is demonstrably possible to have effective infrastructure without the downsides so closely associated with the US market.

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

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 29 Apr 2020 @ 2:01am

        Re: Re: Xfinity (Comcast) pricing

        "I've mentioned this numerous times on similar threads, but the answer to that is effective regulation, which has been consistently dismantled and opposed in the US."

        ...Instead what we'll be getting is the massed US political body pretending any problems in a "free" market are the fault of lazy consumers not exercising their "choice". Up until the point where the situation is horrible enough to resemble the Railroad Tycoon/Ma Bell scenario and the result becomes a large antitrust suit which resets the clock for a few years rather than actually fixes the underlying issue.

        At least when broadband infrastructure collapses the result is milder than when the same happens to water supply and a city ends up drinking the Flint River.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2020 @ 1:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: Xfinity (Comcast) pricing

          Up until the point where the situation is horrible enough to resemble the Railroad Tycoon/Ma Bell scenario

          In our newly revised history, all that stuff was great, and those antitrust actions were unnecessary government overreach led by liberals. Nevermind the Republican presidents leading the efforts.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2020 @ 8:04pm

    Not necessarily "cutters"

    The prediction is that 54% of households won't subscribe to cable/satellite TV. That doesn't mean they'll be "cord-cutters". It also includes the growing population who never understood the appeal of the metaphorical "cord", or have realized its ridiculousness—all those people under 30-40 years of age who the cable cos. delusionally think will subscribe as soon as they have kids, grow up, or whatever.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2020 @ 8:40pm

    there was nothing to cut in the first place

    I never paid for cable or satellite TV.

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

  • icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 29 Apr 2020 @ 1:52am

    Beginning of the next 'Ma Bell'?

    From the OP;

    "If you're worried about major giants like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon struggling, you shouldn't. While their video profits will erode, their monopoly over broadband means they'll simply be recouping that lost revenue by jacking up the price of your broadband connection (including usage caps and overage fees) in the massive number of uncompetitive US broadband markets..."

    It's a classic, really. Broadband is infrastructure and very little infrastructure can be subject to competitive markets without a great deal of government intervention (as usually happens in europe). The result, in an unregulated market, is a natural monopoly able to tell the customer "I don't care what you think, we're the fscking phone company".

    It'll be interesting to see how the US handles this, because they'll have to choose between government enforcing equal-levy rules on the cables, or a permanently entrenched monopoly.

    I can already hear the outraged squawking coming from the group of libertarians having to go with either a permanently entrenched monopoly as the norm of this entire industrial segment...or having to accept the heresy of government regulation.

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

    • icon
      rkhalloran (profile), 29 Apr 2020 @ 7:15am

      Re: Beginning of the next 'Ma Bell'?

      >> It'll be interesting to see how the US handles this, because they'll have to choose between government enforcing equal-levy rules on the cables, or a permanently entrenched monopoly. Problem with re-engineering this is that most of these companies have exclusivity agreements either at the state or local level, so you'd end up getting into a raft of "states' rights" arguments (hello, Interstate commerce rules :-) ). The simplest solution would be to declare the last-mile infrastructure as open to all comers, such as was done in the Ma Bell breakup, so competitors could get on the wires/fiber/coax. The incumbents would scream, but this should create the "public roads" needed. In my town, AT&T & Comcast suddenly got much more competitive on pricing once Google FIber announced/threatened to come in. Have AT&T gig FTTH at this point for $80/month. Will be looking HARD at cutting the cord (ditching the dish in my case) once the contract expires in the fall.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2020 @ 7:20am

    I cut the cord about 10 years ago and haven't looked back. Most of my TV comes from the Antenna. There are a number of DVR's you can pick from to use with an Antenna. I'm currently using 2 of them, TIVO is my Main DVR with a couple Mini's in the Bedrooms. Then there is my HDHomerun which is working with PLEX on my NAS. Either of them can record up to 4 programs at once.

    I do save a lot of money cutting the cord, but Internet-only pricing has been shooting up. Also, it can be cheaper to get a bundle and so I can get some TV channels which I don't use as I don't have a DVR for cable, just a basic cable tv box, so I'm still using my Antenna, but it looks like I'm yet another person paying for TV service when I'm not even using it.

    This is the game they play. There are no other real Broadband options. It was the Government that created these monopolies.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2020 @ 8:43am

    TV 'Cord Cutters' will still be paying their local ISP monopoly in 2022

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

  • identicon
    Anon, 29 Apr 2020 @ 9:50am

    Elon...?

    What happens in a few months when SpaceX starts selling satellite internet where the monopolies thought they had a monopoly? Will they be able to compete when 5G in urban areas delivers service competitive with wired on volume and price? (and every time they raise the price of cable, it makes 5G that much more competitive. )

    It is the nature of monopolies... They rest on their laurels reaping the dwindling rewards of monopoly as progress bypasses them until they suddenly realize they've been rendered obsolete and there's no recovering.

    Live TV is gone. Other than some occasional sports events, and CNN as talking wallpaper to fill time, I watch no live TV. It's been getting progressively more like this as DVR tech became ubquitous. Whether I get my entertainment by cable "DVR" or internet streaming - who cares? the key is the content, not the medium.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2020 @ 10:48am

      Re: Elon...?

      Will they be able to compete when 5G in urban areas delivers service competitive with wired on volume and price?

      What makes you think the wireless carriers will ever want to be competitive with wired services? One or two have made vague promises that 5G will be different, but historically we've seen them express nothing but comtempt at the idea of being anyone's primary connection.

      Elon's already admitted that StarLink won't be able to provide good service in cities.

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

  • identicon
    me, 29 Apr 2020 @ 5:40pm

    Malice VS Stupidity

    I dunno. Sounds to me like the TV industry was just stringing the public along and not dropping prices, so they could build up a big nest-egg for quick and easy switch over to the streaming systems to come without having to lower the price of streaming either. After all, they own the Streams and EVERYONE will eventually be on the Streams, so, if they were honest about the cord-cutters now, folks might wonder why they were not cutting prices to re-capture the audience. Their Public Denial is a Smokescreen to prevent price dropping.

    Truth is, they couldn't give a shit. They knew it was coming but wanted to drain as much capital from the TV "fools" as possible before the switch over to make it as painless for themselves as possible and maintain a constant raise in Stream pricing to insure they can continue as they are now without any interruption.

    Just saying...

    me

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


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