TV Cord Cutting Poised To Smash Records During Second Quarter

from the inevitable-(r)evolution dept

So we've already noted that with the rise of streaming video competition, more people cut the TV cord last year than any other time in history. MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett has noted that 2016's 1.7% decline in traditional cable TV viewers was the biggest cord cutting acceleration on record. SNL Kagan agrees, noting that traditional pay TV providers lost around 1.9 million traditional cable subscribers. That was notably worse than the 1.1 million net subscriber loss seen last year. And once you factor in the fact that people are buying and moving to new homes without signing up for cable, the full numbers are actually worse.

And things are only going to accelerate as companies like Dish (Sling TV), Sony (Playstation Vue), Google (YouTube TV), Amazon and others flood the market with cheaper, more flexible, streaming alternatives.

Pay TV providers already lost roughly 789,000 subscribers this year. Wall Street analysts expect the second quarter to see more than 1 million subscriber defections away from cable. The second quarter is already historically the worst of the year for cord cutting, as college students cancel school service and pad the defections. This year, however, the belated rise in real streaming competition means things will be arguably worse:

"Pay TV providers could lose more than a million subscribers in the current period, a team of analysts at UBS led by John C. Hodulik wrote in a research note distributed Tuesday. "That would be the worst result on record and equate to a 2.5% annual decline," compared to 2.1% last quarter, the analysts wrote.

And things for the industry could only get worse, the analysts wrote.

"We estimate this will put the industry on pace for a 3.3% decline in 2017 and 4.0% in 2018," they said in their note.

You might just notice a bit of a trend after UBS put its estimates into visual form:

As we've long noted, none of this will be fatal for industry giants like Comcast, who plan to counter lost TV revenues by jacking up broadband prices via arbitrary and otherwise unnecessary usage caps, using bundled pricing to force people to take TV bundles they may not even want. The broadcast and cable TV sector could also easily counter these losses by doing something uncharacteristic and unthinkable for the sector: listening to these defecting customers and actually competing on price and package flexibility.

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Filed Under: cable, cord cutting, tv

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  1. icon
    Totes McGoats (profile), 13 Jun 2017 @ 7:10am

    Good luck with young people

    Their problem is exacerbated by the fact they have little chance of getting young people. For example, when I got my first apartment in 2001 signing up for cable was automatic – I gave it no thought whatsoever. Internet video didn’t really exist (not even YouTube!) and even though I didn’t watch a ton of TV I wanted more than three broadcast networks. Now in 2017 I can’t imagine any young person getting their first place, especially one used to Netflix/Amazon Prim / Hulu, feeling the need to sign up for cable channels that cost over a hundred dollars a month.

    Seriously, if there are thousands of hours of TV out there, and no way you can watch all of it, the Netflix/Hulu/Amazon half cost $30 a month and the cable TV half costs over $100 a month – why would you even consider Cable TV? You can’t watch it all anyway.

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