Right now is a bad time to own a traditional TV company. According to MoffettNathanson, pay TV distributors like Comcast and Charter lost 655,000 pay-TV customers in just three months. This works out to be about 3,786 households canceling cable TV every day. This is up from just 93,000 households canceling cable TV during the same period in 2021. Now, as we start to get the 4th quarter 2022 numbers, it looks like cord cutting may be growing even faster, as DISH alone lost almost 3,000 subscribers every day.
Americans have increasingly been looking for ways to save money as inflation, along with fears over the economy, grow. This has led to many cable TV holdouts to reconsider that high monthly bill for cheaper streaming options.
Streaming is not exempt from the pressures of inflation, though. Increasingly Americans are deciding to go without live TV service as only 61% of Americans pay for cable TV or a live TV streaming service like Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, etc. This is the lowest level live TV services have seen since 1993, before services like DIRECTV and DISH launched.
Increasingly more TV viewing has been moving to on-demand or free services for even casual background noise. Recently Pluto TV’s viewership has grown to the point that Nielsen’s monthly TV report, The Gauge showed that 1% of all TV viewing is now on Pluto TV.
Antenna growth has also grown as 18.6 million American homes now use an antenna to watch free over-the-air TV, according to Nielsen.
The question now is will this trend continue to grow or will it slow down? A lot of that likely depends on the overall economy. When times are good, and the economy is strong, cord cutting typically slows down. When times are bad, and Americans have lost their jobs or are just worried about it, cord cutting typically grows at a faster rate.
The question now is, what can the large cable TV companies do to slow down cord cutting? For now, it seems that many have accepted that this is a losing fight in the long run. Instead, they are trying to move subscribers over to their streaming services like Paramount+ and Disney+, to name a few.