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The TV industry just had its worst quarter ever as over 1 million customers cut the cord

By William Gayde · 28 replies
Nov 8, 2018
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  1. Cord cutting has been on the rise as cable and traditional TV service providers scramble to appeal to a changing audience. Whatever they are doing isn't quite working though. According to a new study by research firm MoffettNathanson, cable and satellite providers lost about 1.1 million customers from July to September of this year. This represents the largest quarterly loss ever for cable providers as well as the first time over 1 million people have cut the cord in a single quarter.

    Dish Network lost 367,000 traditional subscribers and only added 26,000 new clients to their Sling TV service.

    DirecTV hasn't fared much better either. Despite adding 50,000 new streaming customers, the company lost about 300,000 subscribers last quarter. In total, the satellite industry lost 726,000 customers.

    IPTV providers AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS saw smaller losses of 104,000 customers combined.

    Cable TV lost just under 300,000 subscribers, but MoffettNathanson views this as an upward trend since the industry lost 322,000 customers at the same time last year. Comcast made up a large portion of those losses accounting for more than 100,000 alone. However, they did add 363,000 new broadband subscribers, so they likely aren't feeling too bad.

    Customers are faced with many viable alternatives to traditional TV, so streaming providers must keep their pricing competitive in order to continue attracting new customers. Exact growth numbers for streaming services like YouTube TV or FuboTV are difficult to pinpoint, but they continue to see record numbers of new subscribers.

    While this all sounds like the traditional TV industry is dead, researchers estimate about 78% of US households still have some form of cable, satellite, or other paid TV plan. In terms of general industry trends, some believe that the rate of growth for cord cutters is shrinking, but others aren't so sure. MoffettNathanson says that a larger than normal number of new households signing up for new plans can hide the true numbers.

    Regardless, cord cutting continues to be the traditional TV/cable industry's biggest threat and it's showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

    Lead Photo Credit: Minh Uong - New York Times

    Permalink to story.

  2. fps4ever

    fps4ever TS Evangelist Posts: 304   +295

    I bet if the trend continues the traditional cable/dish companies will make it harder and hard for you to cancel. As bad as it is now it can get worse. Last week I just read the horror stories about cancelling Dish or DirectTV, can't quite remember which one?
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  3. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,956   +2,270

    Now there is an almost oxymoron. I cut the cord over four years ago now. The price was too high then, and prices have continued to rise. If they no longer want to continue to struggle with the adaption to a changing audience, they should consider the one thing that seems to be driving many people, myself included, charging lower prices.

    So far, I have not seen any indication that subscription TV or things like DirecTV Now, HBO Now, or Sling TV get it. If Disney comes in a $40/month for their streaming service, that will just confirm, for me, that Disney does not get it, either. At that price, I'll wait for things to come to my local library and "rent" what I want to watch for free.

    I've got $10.99 Netflix, $7.99 Hulu, pay $20/yr for OTA guide subscription, and $0.99 an episode for a weekly show my wife watches. The rest is all OTA for me with MediaPortal and its DVR capabilities. Even with this, there is far more than I can possibly watch. At least I am not paying $87/mo for all that stuff I cannot watch like I was with Dish Network.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
    Theinsanegamer and Reehahs like this.
  4. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,956   +2,270

    I just changed my ISP and had an almost similar experience. I called Spectrum and they were literally like "We took care of that for you." I simply said, "The time for negotiation has passed. I am cancelling whether you like it or not." The took care of me without another word about it. In this case, "stand your ground" was effective.
    Theinsanegamer and Reehahs like this.
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,956   +2,270

  6. Jeff Re

    Jeff Re TS Addict Posts: 150   +114

    You mean the cable TV industry.
  7. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,956   +2,270

    People are dropping streaming services, too, such as SlingTV, DirecTV Now, HBO Go/Now, etc., not just cable/satellite services.
  8. Jeff Re

    Jeff Re TS Addict Posts: 150   +114

    Nothing about that in the article.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,956   +2,270

    You are right. It is not in this article. However, have a look at this -
    I thought that there was an article here on TS, but I am at a loss to find it.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
    Theinsanegamer likes this.
  10. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,708   +2,505

    With the recent upholding of part of the 2016 net neutrality provisions Big Media will have a much harder time implementing pay-to-play bandwidth schemes for content services. This is a very good thing for consumers. Honestly, I don't know why Comcast gives a hoot if people are bailing from traditional multicast cable when they literally own the biggest TV network and a handful of other valuable content themselves. If they choose to be competitive with the likes of Hulu on price then they will still have plenty of customers, and if they don't..oh well! Either way, the days of cable and satellite being able to endlessly gouge their customers is over.
    Theinsanegamer and wiyosaya like this.
  11. qking

    qking TS Booster Posts: 53   +31

    When all the old people die, it will be game over. I bet if you layered TV service subscribers over deaths ,you'd see a compelling pattern.

    I'd expect the real stats you want to see are how few NEW subscribers there are each quarter, and the probable downward trend of that. Or something.
  12. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,962   +1,229

    Don't worry...people are paying x for netflix, x for this streaming service and x for their internet service.
    Unless all you watch is over the air TV, which the FCC made harder by "forcing" the tv stations to switch from analog to digital, moving the frequencies to the high UHF spectrum, which has a LOT LESS penetration & distance, they'll get ya one way or another ;)
    Theinsanegamer and hk2000 like this.
  13. Hexic

    Hexic TS Evangelist Posts: 505   +334

    I have Sling TV - and for the price, I really can't complain. I get my sports and the standard channels for $25 a month.

    Screw paying 2-5x that on cable/satellite.
  14. hk2000

    hk2000 TS Booster Posts: 64   +27

    You still have to pay for internet access to Comcast or whoever, then add several services to cover all the channels you're interested in, and you end up paying the same amount, only to several providers instead of just one. Not to mention, none of the alternatives truly let you pay only for the channels you want. Most of those who are adamant on cutting the cord are people who are fed up with their cable TV provider. Give it enough time, and they will be experiencing similar aggravations from their new provider(s).
    p51d007 likes this.
  15. HyPeroxya

    HyPeroxya TS Enthusiast Posts: 86   +10

    You can certainly see that netflix is keeping its prices down to grow and attract the market , whilst also bleeding the old (cable) market. This is the strategy adopted by uber, amazon fresh , amazon , suffer losses at first till the older business fold then up your prices to cash in. Vulture Capitalism at its best. Single Monoploy provider , or at best a Duopoly. the old Queen is dead! hail the new king!
  16. cuerdc

    cuerdc TS Booster Posts: 177   +41

    I've just cancelled now tv, also cancelling Netflix (only have again due to freebie from psn), psn on cards and home tv package up for renewal see about that soon enough...prime only one keeping as order alot off amazon and dont even use prime video except for grand tour...
  17. Bullwinkle M

    Bullwinkle M TS Booster Posts: 133   +69

    If you already cut the cord to get better reception, but are still paying comcast for the same TV channels (less in fact), then the article is not taking into account the number of cord cutters who still pay a TV extortion fee to comcast for TV service they never use just to get the basic Internet/TV package deal
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  18. Dimitrios

    Dimitrios TS Guru Posts: 464   +346

    My grandma passed away last year. Just found out months ago Comcast in Fairfield, CT was charging her for internet when she never owned a computer or even a cell phone!!!!!! This went on for many years!
  19. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,547   +1,767

    Surprised it isnt faster. TV today is garbage, like most media. It's all either banal, lowest common denominator mush, or screeching SJW harpism.

    Most people with cable are older people, mostly boomers and some gen X. Once the boomers begin to kick the bucket in droves, cable TV is in serious trouble. There is little they offer that has much value.
    You must be new to the internet, netflix has raised its prices multiple times over the last 2 years. It used to be $7.99 a month for HD, now it currently sits at $10.99, and rumors of another hike still persist. Netflix isnt not using the loss model of amazon or uber, they have turned a profit since 2017, and their net profit is growing rapidly.

    Netflix has also dramatically cut their available library, both due to the actions of other media companies and netflix wanting to focus on their own shows. This has led to older subscribers like myself dropping the service. More $$$+less shows = horrible value.
    p51d007 likes this.
  20. hk2000

    hk2000 TS Booster Posts: 64   +27

    What the f%^& does "cutting the cord" really mean??? Just what do you think the hip new gen watch? Your 1st paragraph is spot on, but then you proceed to talk about the "boomers" being the only ones watching? Do you think the "Boomers" are the ones watching that ". . . banal, lowest common denominator mush . . . "? The crappy programming that has dominated TV for the past 10+ years is a result of mindless, brainless, moral(less) generations that followed the boomers. I got news for you, maybe they did cut the cord, but then they continue to consume the same crappy "lowest common denominator mush," on their tiny 4 inch screens- trust me, when the boomers kick the bucket, your crappy TV/entertainment/programming woes do not decrease in the least, they actually multiply.
  21. Viewing habits have shifted. I agree with @Theinsanegamer that it is older people that keep cable and can't be bothered to keep up with streaming services etc. IMHO the amount of 'lowest common denominator mush' has been ever increasing it's just that as @hk2000 pointed out, the latest generation isn't watching cable TV, they are glued to their teeny-tiny screens 'consuming content' as it is said.
  22. Open5G

    Open5G TS Rookie

    Traditional cable-fiber and satellite channelized content will lose ground at an accelerated pace over the next few years because of 1) Consumers want to watch content when, where, on what devices and of their choosing. 2) The mobile networks are reaching a threshold of bandwidth density to supply the cable replacement level of bandwidth. Up until recently, that has not been fully possible because mobile operators had not developed the ability to provide the 100GB/month per subscriber rate without causing network bottlenecks. Mobile devices typically use less than 1/10th to 1/5th the monthly bandwidth as home broadband services. As mobile operators add the higher frequency bands and use the latest chips and technologies in networks and devices, the sustained data rates will reach parity with cable in markets where fully deployed. In about five years about 80% of the population will have a feasible alternative to cable service.

    Customers have been opting out of cable-fiber and satellite service for a few years. Most of this appeared unalarming because it occurred less as the fleeing of existing subscribers as it did like the 'young and restless' not opting to subscribe to cable or satellite in the first place. Recently that trend is shifting to a growing exodus of cable and satellite subscribers who are cutting the cords entirely.

    I think that as wireless bandwidth increases the prices for cable-replacement will drop so that OTT services can compete more aggressively. That will be driven by market forces and the lower cost per bit of wireless.
  23. PDXer

    PDXer TS Rookie

    I wonder if HBO is renewing contracts with Cable Systems at this point? I subscribe to HBO Now, but the only thing I miss about cable is being able to watch Bill Maher and John Oliver live. I don't mind watching them 24 hours later on HBO Now, and CERTAINLY don't miss them enough to connect with Comcast again, but the day HBO live finally becomes available without cable will signal the end of cable as a distribution platform.
  24. netman

    netman TS Addict Posts: 308   +95

    I cut the cord for cable TV nine years ago but hold on to the cord for cable internet. Now I am thinking to cut the cable internet and go cellular internet all the way for my home...
  25. jackal2687

    jackal2687 TS Enthusiast Posts: 96   +14

    It is cheaper for me to continue to have phone, internet and TV than it is just to have internet. I am sure this is how they keep these numbers so high. In reality I suspect that number is much lower.

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