For years now, headline after headline has predicted the end of cable’s dominance on the pay video market. More and more households continue to cut the cable thanks to the ever-expanding selection of streaming services, free TV providers, and other ways to watch video without a pricey cable subscription. The latest data to further drive home the writing on the wall comes from market research firm MoffettNathanson Research which just reported that pay TV suffered its worst quarterly losses ever at the end of 2018. Is this finally the end for cable?
It’s likely, although I would argue that cable isn’t going away, but instead merely changing forms. After all, many of the world’s biggest cable providers are getting in on the streaming game in one way or another. Whatever the future holds for cable, it’s clear that fewer households prefer the old methods of paying for dozens of channels they’ll never watch just to have access to the few that they do watch. According to MoffettNathanson’s latest data, cord cutting hit the highest quarterly rate in Q4 2018 with 985,000 households cutting the cable.
That quarterly drop is reflective of the overall 4.1% decrease in total pay TV customers over the last year. More and more TV subscribers are shifting their business models away from relying on cable and bundled cable-and-internet packages to focusing solely on broadband services. It’s clear customers prefer streaming video of one kind or another over cable TV, so offering households stable, high-speed internet service is one way the telecom companies can stay in the game amid shifting market conditions and trends.
It’s still difficult to say what will become of cable TV in the short term, but the long term trends are clear. As we move farther away from analog media and infrastructure to the digital possibilities made possible by today’s technology, it’s inevitable that entire business models are uprooted. It’s the story of history. Think about it: when’s the last time you hand wrote a letter to someone? Have the messaging capabilities made possible by mobile phones changed how you communicate with others? It’s only natural that our media habits will change as well.
So long, cable. Thanks for the memories.