A new report finds that the biggest pay TV providers have lost more than 300,000 customers in the first quarter of 2018, and cable TV has 3.4 million subscribers since 2012. The rise of video-on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Hulu has led to increasing numbers of people opting become cord cutters - dropping their pay TV subscriptions in favor of online services. The number of pay-TV subscribers peaked in 2012, but has been on a slow slide downwards since then.
People have been predicting the death of traditional TV for some time now, especially given that younger generations have already grown used to streaming their favorite shows online at their convenience, rather than waiting for them to air on TV at a particular time. Some TV providers have been adapting to the change by launching their own streaming services, like HBO Go. Meanwhile, Q4 2017 saw Netflix add another 2 million net subscribers in the US alone, and 8 million in total worldwide.
A new report from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest pay TV providers (which together account for 95% of the total market) lost approximately 305,000 customers in the first three months of 2018. This isn't as steep a drop as Q1 2017, which saw a loss of about 515,000 subscribers. However, LRG's principal analyst Bruce Leightman explained that the drop in traditional TV subscribers reflects a continuing trend:
"The number of pay-TV subscribers for the top providers peaked six years ago. Since 1Q 2012, top providers have lost about 3.4 million total pay-TV subscribers. Since the industry’s peak, traditional services have lost about 7.2 million subscribers, while the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered services gained about 3.8 million subscribers."
As the numbers show, satellite TV services have been hit hardest of all, with DIRECTTV and DISH TV losing 373,000 subscribers, compared to the 340,000 lost in Q1 2017. Another report by LRG found that broadband growth has also slowed since last year. Per FierceCable, these less-than-promising numbers have heavily impacted the value of cable company stocks, with several suffering double-digit declines. MoffettNathan analyst Craig Moffett said in a note to investors:
"In a span of a few short months, cable has fallen badly out of favor. We don’t need to rehash the litany of horribles about video, broadband and M&A here. Suffice it to say that there is no cable company out there that hasn’t been painted with a black brush."
This trend will surely only continue as older teens who have come to see online streaming as the norm move out and decide upon TV set-ups for their own homes. They're unlikely to choose an unwieldy satellite dish or expensive TV cable box over a simple $13.99 per month Netflix subscription, $99 per year Amazon Prime subscription, $7.99 per month Hulu subscription, $15 per month HBO Go subscription, or a combination of those. Comparatively, CableTV.com found that the average price for a standalone cable TV service is $72.62 per month.
Are you a cord-cutter, or is there still a place in your home for traditional TV? Let us know in the comments.