Cable and other pay TV services are losing subscribers by the hundreds of thousands as former customers switch to streaming and on-demand services. Industry watchers are wondering how long traditional cable can stay viable.
Luke Bouma, owner of Cord Cutters News, says traditional cable providers have a long way to fall. “They still have a lot of subscribers to lose,” he points out. “I think the last I heard, there were somewhere still north of 80 million subscribers in the United States. So,” he says, we can expect them to be around for “quite a few years.”
Bouma says cable providers are taking their lumps this year. “Well, they got pretty close to a million subscribers lost last quarter. That is the largest decrease in subscribers ever for pay TV, services like cable and satellite,” he notes. “So the ball is rolling downhill. Every year, faster and faster, more people are leaving cable.”
The 4th quarter of 2015 is the latest one to show even a slight increase in cable subscribers, and Bouma says it’s hard to say why. He speculates it may have something to do with the kickoff of the 2016 presidential campaign around that time.
Is it possible cable could end up going the way of drive-in theaters or Blockbuster? “At some point,” Bouma predicts, “yeah, eventually cable will just go away.” He adds, “Fewer and fewer cable companies are out there, and the smaller ones will probably be the first to go as pressure mounts from cord cutting.”
He said cord cutting is “definitely still in its infant stage,” but is “getting close to a major step forward in both the accessibility and the quality of content.”