Cord-cutting, as has been much reported throughout the year, has become rampant during the coronavirus pandemic. The nation’s pay TV services lost 1.8 million subscribers in the first three months of 2020, and another 1.57 million subscribers in the second quarter, at least among the fifteen largest pay TV providers.
Now, a new report says that the number of cord cutters for the year will reach 6.6 million.
According to Emarketer, 6.6 million households will cut the cord in 2020, bringing the total of cord-cutting households in the United States to 31.2 million. In all, America will be left with a universe of 77.6 million households that still subscribe to cable, satellite or telecom-based TV, which marks a record 7.5% year-over-year drop.
Furthermore, the number of U.S. households with pay TV subscriptions is expected to drop below 50% for the first time by the end of 2024. That year, the number of cord-cutters is seen reaching as high as 46.6 million, up from 31.2 million in 2020.
“Consumers are choosing to cut the cord because of high prices, especially compared with streaming alternatives,” eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence Eric Haggstrom, said in the announcement. “The loss of live sports in H1 2020 contributed to further declines. While sports have returned, people will not return to their old cable or satellite plans.”
Another phenomenon pointed out by Emarketer is that TV ad spending will drop 15% this year, to a nine-year low of $60 billion.
“While TV ad spending will rebound in 2021 with the broader economy, it will never return to pre-pandemic levels,” Haggstrom added. “Given trends in cord-cutting, audience erosion, and growth in streaming video, more ad dollars will shift from TV to digital video in the future.”
Of the 1.57 million lost subscribers to pay-TV in the second quarter, 500,000 were from cable companies, with Comcast losing the most, although Charter Communications actually added cable subscribers in the quarter, per the quarterly analysis by Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG.)
“As pay TV subscriber losses accumulate, cable providers have been focusing on their internet services, which are more profitable and have benefited from the consumer shift to streaming video,” Haggstrom in the announcement.
Indeed, per Leichtman, cable and TV companies added over a million Internet subscribers in the second quarter of 2020, compared to just 375,000 added subscribers in the same quarter the year before. Charter gained the most Internet subscribers in the quarter, with 850,000 new ones. Comcast gained the second most, adding 323,000 subscribers in the year’s second quarter.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.