Cord-Cutting Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

September 27, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

Pay-TV & Cord-Cutting | Television

Pay-TV subscribers are continuing to cut or, at the very least, shave the cord at a relatively steady rate. A recent survey [subscription required] by TDG of adult broadband users that subscribe to MVPD services found that some 13% of respondents say they are likely to cancel their pay-TV service.

The percentage of adults who rate their proclivity to cancel their pay-TV service as high has risen from 2018 and 2017, when the figure stood at 10%. That being said, previous research found that the top pay-TV providers (including internet-delivered services such as Sling TV) in the US lost 3.1% of their subscriber base in 2018.

Recent data [press release] from Leichtman Research Group (LRG) reveals that the largest pay-TV providers are suffering dramatic losses this year compared to last year. In Q2 2019, these top pay-TV providers shed approximately 1.53 million net subscribers. During the same quarter in 2018 the net loss was 420K subscribers.

Moreover, in the past year, pay-TV providers experienced a net loss of more than 5.01 million subscribers. This compares to the previous year-long period when pay-TV providers lost 1.06 million subscribers. In other words, losses this past year have almost quintupled the prior year.

Even when adults aren’t ready to give up their pay-TV subscription completely, the TDG survey found that many will downgrade their service: just about one-fifth (19%) say they are likely to downgrade their service. Part of the reason for respondents paring down services could be due, in part, to the cost of pay-TV, which is one of the deciding factors for consumers when choosing a pay-TV service.

While there is some debate over the percentage of households that subscribe to a pay-TV service, it is safe to say that there is an overlap between households with pay-TV and those that also subscribe to some form of streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu.

Indeed, Comscore found that about one-third of OTT household also subscribed to pay-TV. Not only that, but these same households also made up the largest share of viewing hours compared to that of cord-cutter and cord-never households.

Surprisingly, while many pay-TV subscribers are jumping ship, a report by GfK found some 27% of cord-nevers say they are considering hooking up the cord and subscribing to pay-TV in order to have better access to the shows they enjoy.

About the Data: 2019 TDG data is based on a May 2019 survey of legacy pay-TV subscribers who rated their likelihood to cancel or downgrade services on a 7-point scale. Figures show the top-2 box on the 7-point scale. All respondents are adult broadband users.

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