200,000 people stopped paying for TV last quarter, but why?

By on August 11, 2011, 4:15 PM

Nearly 200,000 people ditched paid television in the second quarter of this year, many in favor of streaming options like Netflix and Hulu. It’s not unusual for cable providers to lose subscribers, but most of the time those losses are picked up by satellite or IPTV suppliers.

Collectively, the top eight pay television providers reported a loss of 193,000 subscribers in the most recent quarter. Tech blog Gigaom say that there are at least a few reasons why users are cutting the cord. 

Telco companies AT&T and Verizon were among three of eight providers that reported positive numbers. AT&T’s paid customer rate increased by 202,000 while Verizon’s subscriber base grew by 184,000. Regardless, heavy losses from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Dish Network kept the group in the negative.

It’s likely that consumers are dropping services for two reasons. A struggling economy is the most obvious answer, especially in rural communities that have been hit hard by the recession. Comcast’s average revenue per user (ARPU) sits around $140, money that could go a long way to pay more important bills under a tight budget.

Cord cutters are also likely finding new homes with Netflix and Hulu Plus. Earlier this year, Netflix reported the same number of subscribers as Comcast. Hulu Plus adoption is also on the rise and the company could be on track for one million subscribers by summer’s end.

I recently joined the ranks of the “cord cutters” after paying nearly $160 per month for Comcast television and Internet services. I found that I simply didn’t watch enough television to justify the price I was paying. My monthly bill for Internet now sits at $65 and I pay $8.55 per month for Netflix’s streaming-only service.

Have you recently canceled paid television service or considering doing so in the near future?




User Comments: 47

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jetkami said:

Maybe people are sick of the crappy programming. Naw that cant be it.

Heck I ripped all my dvds to avi format and created the "Jetkami Superstation"...All movies all the time, no reality show crap, sales for sex pills or cnn. If you like I can stream movies to you for 1/3 the price of your cable bill (DISCLAIMER:Service my go down often due to need for bandwidth for Battlefield 2 BC).

Mizzou Mizzou said:

Maybe people are sick of the crappy programming. Naw that cant be it.

That's for sure, plus this -

Comcast's average revenue per user (ARPU) sits around $140, money that could go a long way to pay more important bills under a tight budget.

That's an awful lot of money for what you're getting in return.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I would do it in a heartbeat if it weren't for sports programming. And with football season coming up, my only option to get that sports programming is Comcast. So I'm essentially stuck until some other vendor comes up with what I want.

Jibberish18 said:

I just pay for Internet. We watch all of our shows on Netflix or on Broadcast Hi Def Local Channels. Works out well. I do miss Satellite sometimes but not enough to pay extra.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I think that if I was to pay $5 per each show that I really wanted to watch, I would probably still come out ahead of paying the full cable bill.

Leeky Leeky said:

I dumped my TV packages and I'm not really missing them yet. Having them essentially doubles my media bill monthly, so I'm happy to watch freeview, movies or use the computer and listen to some stuff like news on there instead.

Guest said:

HA! I stopped paying for paid televsion -- because I, as a 39-year old white male, was forced to move back in with his parents. It's kind of obvious to me why 200,000 of my closest friends might have the same problem -- THE ECONOMY SUCKS.

I don't have the money to blow $150 for a Comcast package that includes telephone, TV, and Internet. I can't afford to pay attention, much less pay for any more bills. I'm struggling to pay off a bunch of medical bills.

WHEN the big cable companies -- not IF -- figure out that they are just overcharging everyone, then maybe we'll get some relief. Or maybe they'll raise rates on the people they have left. And then they'll lose even more subscribers -- because those of us with those kinds of funds will just buy a satellite dish and be done with it. (And by "dish," I do NOT mean Dish Network. You can, though not legally, but it is possible to set up a satellite dish and just pull the signal down from above...)

That is how they did it in the 1980s. And that is how people may do it again.

OUTLAWXXX said:

I refuse to pay for 25 channels when I may only be interested in 1 or 2 and then pay for another package of 25 more channels for another 1 or maybe 2 channels i'm interested in... then have my shit that i PAID FOR!!!! interrupted over and over again for commercials that only remind me of how gullible americans are... What a scam...

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yeah in my opinion TV programming sucks in general. Between the crappy content and the commercials no way. With TiVo / a recorder, maybe. But not for $80 a month, no thanks.

Guest said:

How did DirecTV add people!!! They have to be the worst of the worst

Guest said:

I had cancled my cable for about 8 months until recent.I agree with this article, I just didnt watch television enough, I signed up with netflix and havent left since. Even though their movie library can be limited.. They make up for this with series and documentries...and more!

pmkrefeld said:

TV = bullsh*t, If i want to watch a movie I rent or buy a bluray, better picture, better sound and no ads and on the longshot ,its much cheaper. TV Shows are simply trash anyways who watch that sh*t anyway? In case of news; internet is much faster and much more reliable than cnnn for example...

I'm rather suprised that there are still people wanting to pay for their brains being spammed with mcdonalds and coke adverts.

Igneus the Bold said:

HEAR HEAR! I concur utterly.

jetkami said:

I remember when TV was FREE! How did we come to the point that its now worth $100 a month $1200 a year, $6000 every 5 years. That could be your kids college fund. Thats a tip top of the line computer every 5 years. Or you can watch *****-eyed Beverly-hills moms drop it for Snoop Dodgy Dogg.

Guest said:

There are people out there willing to pay money for tv? You have to be kidding right? For years I lived in a rural location and with a good old 1950s era technology tv antenna I got over 20 channels in HD. People that live near or in a big city probably get twice this number of channels. My only "can't do without media" is my internet connection. IMHO any one paying any thing for tv has more money than sense. Take what you can get for free over the airwaves and to hell with the rest of it. Oh, sure cable has 4 or 5 channels out of 100 that I wouldn't mind having. But over $100 per month for tv? Not for me. I have never paid for it. Tv that is.

Guest said:

"AIR" TV (from antenna): The ditigal TV broadcast is quite good and free.

For one who is pinched by inflated food prices, it may be the best alternative.

Guest said:

People are better off without it. I quit paying for it over a yr ago. Believe me 700 bucks saved a yr goes a long way. I run antenna for local channels internet for anything else. I trimmed the fat off all my bills and saving at least 2500 bucks a yr now. What a waste what was going out before. Everyone i know are doing something like this cutting back on various bills and all just to cope with rising food and gas prices.

Guest said:

All I need is high speed internet at home which costs $70 a month! I get everything I need from there,news,movies,music,etc. And, no need for a home phone either! I use a smart phone which is always with me... :-)

treetops treetops said:

We cut the cord 3 months ago and opted for netflix and of course normal tv. Its just not worth the price. I'm really gonna miss my cable during football season.

cptmds said:

With free OTA TV in HD nowadays, why pay for cable or sat? Unless you happen to be in an unlucky area, you can get all your major networks for free, and a lot of stuff aired on cable channels is in some way covered by the internet. Of course, you will loose some programming, but is it worth the expense? I think a lot of people paying for cable or sat have lived during a period in which several of their "must-have" cable channels didn't exist, so it is not that difficult to live without, especially with the internet. You might as well take some of the money saved and get a better internet connection.... or build a huge DVD collection. Or put it into your kid's college fund, if that applies to you. There are lots of places your money can do good - and it isn't in the pockets of Dish, DirecTV, Comcast, etc.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Guest said:

How did DirecTV add people!!! They have to be the worst of the worst

I think they did a pretty good job of advertising. I would see the commercial probably 10x more than most of the other commercials, and it was nearly on every station I can remember xD

Guest said:

I grew up in the 60s when there was only 3 channels over old analog tv plus a couple of public channels. Perhaps I'm being nostalgic but the vast majority of the shows then were good entertainment. Real actors, not reality tv or dancing with the ho's. By about the early 80s, prior to the internet, people were hoodwinked into the concept of paying for tv for the perceived extra vale content. I never jumped on that bandwagon. I am willing to pay what I think tv is worth. Zero money as far as I am concerned. Now with the internet I rarely use the tv for any thing other than a computer monitor or to watch dvd and bluray movies. Unless they come up with the holodeck I can live without tv. Pay money for it? Ha!

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Leeky said:

I dumped my TV packages and I'm not really missing them yet. Having them essentially doubles my media bill monthly, so I'm happy to watch freeview, movies or use the computer and listen to some stuff like news on there instead.

Agree! Freeview is actually quite good! I invested in a bit more expensive Freeview box and now I can record TV it almost seems like sky again! just with a few less channels, which to be fair were mostly rubbish.

Plus ITV, Channel 4 and BBC all have there own streaming services for there channels so its no big loss.

Leeky Leeky said:

Aye, Virgin Media were pretty good to me, and left there box when I ended the TV packages. So I have catch up TV, and TV on demand, films on demand etc plus all the freeview channels for nothing.

I did have the XL package before that, but it annoyed me that I had to have that package just so I could watch the knowledge/documentary channels. They're about all I watch on TV, and I wasn't prepared (or happy) to pay double the monthly cost just to be able to watch them. My monthly bill averages £40-45 as it is with 30MB fibre-optic broadband and my phone line with unlimited anytime calls. I even have to pay £5 a month for not paying by direct debit which is a joke when I pay online anyway.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I know, BT will charge £5 for not going through Direct Debit as well, and after getting an Experian account I found that they won't help your credit rating either if you don't pay by Direct Debit :S they won't mark it down but won't contribute to the fact your paying for a monthly bill?

Scum Bags!!

Dang you did get a good deal with them! How much I wished I was in an area where I can get off BT lines and onto . . . well virgin or any other company willing to offer me an alternative line

Arris Arris said:

I have BT vision but have considered dumping it due to mostly using it for movies on demand which are also available through PS3 and the freeview reception through BT vision being faulty when using HDMI output (don't know why but tuning/reception using other connection is much better than when plugging in hdmi cable).

Considered getting a FreeviewHD box and dumping BT Vision and the monthly charge but given that BT have already been working with major UK TV companies and others on a replacement system (http://www.youview.com/) it seemed like throwing money away. So I'm just going to make do with Freeview/BT vision until then. Sucks having a FullHD TV for almost 6 years and the only HD stuff I view on it are Blu-rays (and my PC when I used it as my monitor). BT Vision "On Demand" HD stuff requires that you download it 3-4 hours before you watch it. Looking forward to some time in the near future being able to watch HD tv!

Guest said:

I did this 15+ years ago. Since I'm in a suburban area I can get a reasonable amount of traditional broadcast stations and now the internet fills in some additonal shows. My biggest complaint about pay TV, is you get a lot of junk you don't want nor will ever watch. What you do want has more and more commercials and less content. It seems like years ago shows were so much better and engauged the viewer, now it's mostly stuff that you soon forget.

DADEO said:

I hear you, samething here and a antenna doesn't help.

Comcast....got you by the b@lls and slowly squeezing.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Never paid for TV...Freeview's good enough for me. I have a few friends who say most of the paid stuff isn't worth it anyway.

ramonsterns said:

Why do I not watch TV anymore?

Probably because it goes something like this:

Nothing to watch

Rerun

Nothing to watch

GOSSIPGOSSIPGOSSIP

Oh look, a decent movie. What are they saying?

*turn up volu- FOR ONLY FIFTEEN PAYMENTS OF NINETEEN NINETY FIVE THE SUPER SONIC JET STREAM STEAM MOP CAN BE YO-

*mute*

*15 minutes of continuous commercials later*

What was I watching, again?

Forget it, time to use Netflix.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I dropped cable tv just over a year ago. For internet and TV I was paying $139 and I was only watching about 4 of the 15 or so HD channels I got. Not watching the 60+ SD at all (except for maybe ESPNU occationally).

I see a lot of people talking about OTA tv, but where I live I can't get any. I suppose if I had an antenna on a 30' pole above my roof I could, but there is no way I can get anything with inside the house. I might be able to wire one up in the attic, but I've yet to meet anyone that lives in this town that gets OTA TV.

The hardest thing about dropping cable was missing college sports. Luckily I've found a few ways to watch online, but most of the time the quality is crap.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"Doc, It Only HUrts When I Don't Laugh.......

I hear you, samething here and a antenna doesn't help.

Comcast....got you by the b@lls and slowly squeezing.

In which case, you might consider adding a premium porn channel to your service, then kick back and try to enjoy the ride....

Guest said:

I ditched cable about 2 years ago because I knew I didn't watch at least 3/4 of the channels I had in my plan or whatever.

So I noticed one of the biggest problems is having channels you never watch in your entire life(MTV).

They should make a package for you to be able to pick certain amount of channels for a reasonable price.

Guest said:

you can watch football on network (free) TV. Unless you have NFL ticket, you really only miss one broadcast (MNF on ESPN)

Guest said:

I once asked my Comcast provider whether they would agree to sell us channels "a la carte." The answer was -- "we'll get back to you on that."

The cable companies are SCARED S#!TLESS that people will actually WANT that service, will DEMAND it, and will flock in DROVES to the Internet to ESCAPE THE DELUGE OF CRAPPY, ABYSMALLY-BAD CHANNELS that exist right now.

The last thing in the WORLD that they want is to sell you individual channels.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Guest said:

you can watch football on network (free) TV. Unless you have NFL ticket, you really only miss one broadcast (MNF on ESPN)

Yeah, but isn't Jon Gruden still on MNF? "Who's got two thumbs on the mute button and doesn't want to listen to Jon? THIS GUY!"

The thursday night games on the NFL network, and there are more this year than last year. Since the owners couldn't bump the season to 18 games the other solution to getting us more football was more days of the week with games. Sat is college, Fri is high school, so we'll see more and more thursday games.

So Hulu and Netflix are great 'n all, but can I get a DVR to work with my antenna? And when will Hulu get CBS shows?

Guest said:

I'm about ready to cut the cord, not because I can't afford it. I'm one of the lucky ones that still has a good paying job. I'm about to cut it because "their ain't cr*p on tv".

I'm not into sports...that nixes about 20 channels. I don't watch the shop on tv channels. That nixes another 10. The local (thanks to digital) 10-12 channels I can get OTA.

I get most of the news from the internet anyway, so why pay 40-100 dollars a month for cable?

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

Sick of the crappy programming...

To Many Commercials..way to many commercials.... 1 hr show u lucky to see more than 7 minutes before a 4 minute commercial...

To Much Paid programming...

To many repeats..... I mean the same movie twice in a row, come on now...

Cost keeps creeping up every month.. a dollar here a dollar there ...

Just had enough of COMCAST doo doo..

Cut the cord last month.. do not miss it at all

Hello Netflix... no commercials ... wahooooo

Guest said:

ditched Comcast after my wife watched the last episode of The Sopranos

ditched the paper newspaper seven years ago, or so

kept the wife for 20 years, and counting

brick and mortar businesses are doomed in this economy of services and internet connections, who's going to a bar to meet people when they have facebook (arrhhh!!! wrong example...)

life goes on, in the cloud

ikesmasher said:

its the crappy programming, of course. I find myself watching crap i dont even want to watch just because theres nothing else on and im bored.

Netflix here i come!

Butch said:

I just dumped my $130/mo. satellite bill and went to Netflix streaming and local HD channels. I NEVER watch commercials. Everything I have watched for the last 7 years have been DVR'ed. I will miss that FWD button! Maybe I'll get a Tivo or two.

Guest said:

I live in a rural area with no OTA digital reception. Have dial up, going to DSL asap, Will a "slow: (cheaper) DSL connection be good enought to run Hulu, Netlix, etc? Also want to run a tablet off wireless with the DSL...if and when my model tablet gets support for Netflix- will that cut the bandwidth even more? Thanks

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I live in a rural area with no OTA digital reception. Have dial up, going to DSL asap, Will a "slow: (cheaper) DSL connection be good enought to run Hulu, Netlix, etc? Also want to run a tablet off wireless with the DSL...if and when my model tablet gets support for Netflix- will that cut the bandwidth even more? Thanks
I have 1Mb service from Verizon. It isn't anywhere near optimal for internet TV and streaming movies. On a service such as Hulu, the stream lags, buffers, and pixelates fairly often.

The maximum expected bandwidth on 1 Mbs DSL is equal to 124KBS a second, it's not enough for heavy media usage.

You can forget multiple PCs running simultaneously. Trying to work on the PC while it is downloading a large file, is just asking for trouble. If the download stream is broken, the file can't be saved. A 1GB file takes about 3 hours to download with 1 Meg DSL.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Moving on, I haven't had cable in perhaps 17 years.

I'm fortunate that I live in a city where I have perfect reception of at least 20 OTA TV channels. That said, digital television came still 20 years too late. The RFI environment in a large city makes older analog TV unusable. I gave up on the lower end of the VHF TV band almost 20 years ago. I was unable to access channels 3 & 6. which are CBS and ABC respectively.

Anyhow, I enjoy the scripted dramas on network TV quite a bit. So, it's all too easy to piss away 3 hours a day, 5 days a week on those, not counting national news and "Jeopardy", which kills another hour. PBS is good too, only now the fund raising is constant, they just bounce it from sub channel to sub channel.

So, with my 1meg DSL for streaming in only dire emergencies, (locked in for life @ $17.95) 10 Redboxes within 5 miles of my house, and a willingness to buy DVD box sets of shows I really like, "I don't need no steenking cable".

Besides, I really loathe Comcast, just for the pure joy that hatred gives me!

Guest said:

Hey these guys claiming to be in a rural location and can't get an ota channel...Where the heck are you? In the wilds of Montana or Alaska. With a tall pole and a premium antenna I suspect you might approach 100 mile reception. Of course I can see the problem if you have a mountain range in the way.

As for paying for tv. I can't believe some of the prices being bandied about here. $130 for tv? Really? I used to live on a farm and still got all the channels I ever wanted ota. I thought back in the day when people payed $17.95 per month for 30 cable channels that it was a waste of money. But over $100? What is the word that is on the other side of ludicrous? I can't see any one regardless of income wanting to pay that kind of money for tv. I mean where is the value? A lot of people must have a world view that differs significantly from mine to pay for tv. And it's not a matter of money for me. I have the cash. I just don't think it's worth it.

There has been a trend in America to persuade people to pay money for things that used to be free. Tv, bottled water, subscription radio. Wake up folks. You should ask the people taking your money to give you a few kisses because you are certainly getting *ucked. Better yet. Just don't bend over.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

There has been a trend in America to persuade people to pay money for things that used to be free. Tv, bottled water, subscription radio. Wake up folks. You should ask the people taking your money to give you a few kisses because you are certainly getting *ucked. Better yet. Just don't bend over.
Well, when the cable company drops the soap, some people believe it's only polite to pick it up for them.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Hey these guys claiming to be in a rural location and can't get an ota channel...Where the heck are you? In the wilds of Montana or Alaska. With a tall pole and a premium antenna I suspect you might approach 100 mile reception. Of course I can see the problem if you have a mountain range in the way.

As for paying for tv. I can't believe some of the prices being bandied about here. $130 for tv? Really? I used to live on a farm and still got all the channels I ever wanted ota. I thought back in the day when people payed $17.95 per month for 30 cable channels that it was a waste of money. But over $100? What is the word that is on the other side of ludicrous?

Rolla, MO. Check it out on antennaweb.org We are about the same distance away from 3 cities that broadcast, right at the edge of each of them.

The $130 is likely a internet/tv bundle, not $130 for just tv.

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