Cable TV Is Dying. Could Home Broadband Be Next?

Cable TV Is Dying. Could Home Broadband Be Next?

The death of cable continues, although the return of sports last fall helped slow the trend down.

We all know that households eliminating cable and other pay-TV has a been rising trend, one that only accelerated with the coronavirus pandemic. But how prevalent was the trend in 2020?

According to a new report from analyst firm MoffettNathanson, as cited by Fast Company, “the penetration of U.S. households paying for traditional TV services is down to levels not seen since the mid-1990s.”

MoffettNathanson estimated that the pay-TV industry lost six million households in 2020, a decline of 7.3 percent. The overall penetration of pay-TV in U.S. households has now dropped to around 60 percent, the lowest it has been since 1994.

“The media industry just suffered the worst year ever for cord-cutting, whether measured only among traditional distributors or after including vMVPDs,” the report said.

The MoffettNathanson report, like most of its kind, noted a decline in cord cutting in the later part of the year, after sports returned and lockdowns in many areas were lifted.

Most cable and satellite companies that have reported losses in pay-TV customers have also posted net gains in broadband customers. But another new report shows that some customers are getting rid of their broadband service as well.

Parks Associates reported Tuesday, in a report called “Adoption and Perception of Broadband,” found that more than fifteen million American households have “cancelled their home broadband service and use only mobile broadband for their internet needs.”

“High cost is the most prominent issue driving households to cut the cord and go mobile only, although service-related issues, from slow speeds to poor customer experience, also contribute,” Kristen Hanich, Senior Analyst, Parks Associates, said in the release by Parks. “Service providers can deploy a number of strategies, including increasing speed and delivering a device that improves Wi-Fi coverage, in order to protect their customer base.”

Parks also said that if companies offered Wi-Fi mesh networks and therefore reduced the problems of speed and reliability, “75% of households likely to switch would stay with their current provider if offered these solutions.”

“In September 2020, 9% of U.S. broadband households had upgraded their home’s broadband service in the previous 12 months, and the COVID-19 crisis was the main reason for 80% of those upgrades,” Hanich went on to say in the release.

“Overall the NPS scores for all service providers have increased from 2019 to 2020. Good performance during the COVID-19 crisis has improved customers’ opinion of their service providers, but there were dips throughout the year, indicating that providers need to continue to deliver on customer service and innovate in value-added offerings in order to grow and maintain their subscriber base.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, 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.

Image: Reuters.