This is clearly a sign of the end times. The end times for pay TV, that is. As streaming video services and HD antennas become increasingly popular options compared to ever-expensive and stringy pay TV contracts, more and more households are cutting the cord for good. In what is surely to be causing causing pay TV executives to lose sleep, several leading market research firms have reported that cable and satellite TV providers lost over 1 million subscribers in the July to September quarter – the largest quarterly loss ever. Can pay TV survive?
Media and telecommunications research firm MoffettNathanson and financial services group BTIG both published data this week revealing that Q3 2018 saw pay TV providers suffer their most damaging losses yet. Some of the hardest-hit companies include DirecTV which lost 297,000 subscribers during the quarter, and Comcast which lost 106,000 subscribers. Satellite TV overall seems to be faring the worst by far, with 726,000 subscribers putting their satellite dishes out for garbage pickup during the quarter. Fun fact: those dishes make great sleds.
However, things aren’t exactly perfect for the online streaming video market either. Both DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV experienced slower growth than usual during the quarter after raising prices. Still, slow growth is still growth, and the most popular streaming services continue to grow their subscriber numbers exponentially.
For years, analysts have predicted that the end of this decade would mark the end of cable and satellite pay TV, and all signs point to that being true. Still, paying for TV is paying for TV whether you get that TV from a satellite, a coaxial cable, or a broadband connection. What streaming has to offer that cable doesn’t is a higher degree of flexibility in terms of both content and contract. Can cable and satellite change their ways before it’s too late – or is it already too late?