Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cord-Cutting Picks Up

The cord-cutting trend is picking up steam as consumers get used to the idea of going without television. The total number of television subscribers in the United States, and Canada too, is declining, which means relative viewership is declining faster than the rate of population growth. Consumers are coming to realize it is possible to just cancel TV cable, though most still aren’t doing so until there is a precipitating event — they move, or the television breaks. 

The TV industry may be missing the point of the cord-cutting trend, describing it as viewers switching from cable subscriptions to smaller, less expensive video subscription services on the Internet. Yet the statistics suggest that in most cases, people are just walking away from their favorite TV shows — they are not looking for other ways to watch those shows, aside from possibly purchasing whole seasons of specific shows on DVD or Blu-ray.

Some cable viewers spend two months filling their DVRs to capacity. The plan is to spend the next two years catching up with shows they didn’t have time to watch. Of course, no one could ever really get through that many shows after the deadlines have been taken away. Meanwhile, without the sense of urgency that comes with the cable TV schedule, the luster of television fades away. It is a gradual process, but to the TV industry, these customers just vanish one day. 

For a few viewers, this fall’s price increases may be enough to push them into the ranks of the cord-cutters. For others, it will be the loss of a job or other financial surprise that leads them to cut costs. By the end of this year, I believe these numbers will be larger than the number of people who cut the cord because they moved.