The trend of cable subscribers cutting the cord isn’t new, but a new wrinkle is an increasing number of people who have drastically reduced watching the content even as they stick with the service, effectively “quiet quitting” when it comes to pay TV.
That’s according to new data from Inscape, a research firm owned by television maker Vizio. The study found that 9% of U.S. cable and satellite households saw a 75% decrease in second-quarter viewership time vs. the same period in 2022, but didn’t cancel their service. Another 8.4% of those households saw their viewership time fall by 50% to 75% from a year ago.
While not an exact comparison, the number of cable and satellite households that dropped their service from the first quarter to the second quarter was 5%.
The “quiet quitting” number is an interesting development for cable — but not necessarily a good one. While those households are still paying their cable bills now, the falling viewership stats suggest those services may be in line for cancellation if they’re looking to tighten their belts. Considering how much more expensive everything — from gas to milk — is, that’s a fairly realistic scenario.
There are a number of reasons why the viewership is down. The Inscape study notes that the share of viewing from streaming services, whether its high-profile shows like Disney+’s Ahsoka or the streaming phenom Suits, has increased steadily over the last two years and hit 53.8% in the second quarter. Console gaming, meanwhile, edged up a bit as well, making up 5.4% of total time. Cable and satellite viewing now makes up 37.1%, down from 46.9% two years ago.
As for why those households haven’t cut the cord? Some home ownership associations have agreements with pay-TV providers obligating their residents subscribe to a certain service. And some consumers may keep it around for one or two channels — a package of foreign language channels or a sports package, for instance. Others may just haven’t had the time to make the cut.
But it’s clear the trend for cable and satellite viewing going forward isn’t rosy.