dslreports logo

story category
Cord Cutters Growing or Slowing, Depending Who You Ask
by Karl Bode 09:40AM Tuesday Nov 19 2013
Last week telecom analyst firm MoffettNathanson estimated that pay TV providers lost 113,000 TV subscribers last quarter something they argued was thanks in part to a refusal to seriously compete on price. The latest data from the Leichtman Research Group puts that estimate smaller, at just 25,000 net subscribers lost last quarter -- down from 50,000 this time last year.

Click for full size
Leichtman notes the top nine cable companies lost about 600,000 video subscribers last quarter, the biggest impact on cable since 2010. As is usually the case, most of those customers fled to telcoTV and satellite TV alternatives. Hit particularly hard last quarter was Cablevision, Time Warner Cable and Charter.

"The multi-channel industry was essentially flat in the third quarter of 2013, with major providers as a whole performing slightly better than in the third quarter of 2012," Leichtman. "Quarterly losses for cable providers were exacerbated by Time Warner Cable's programming dispute with CBS, but these losses benefitted Telco and DBS providers with higher subscriber gains than a year ago."

As many of our users are quick to point out, these numbers don't include the number of users who are reducing the number of services -- or the channel bundles -- available from their cable operator. Those numbers are likely to be substantial as users grow increasingly weary of bi-annual rate hikes for massive bundles of channels left unwatched.

Bruce Leichtman has traditionally been a cord cutting phenomenon denier, while Craig Moffett has recently acknowledged cord cutting was a real thing after years of insisting the small but meaningful trend didn't exist. Whether cord cutting is a growing phenomenon fueled by cable's refusal to compete on price -- or a fleeting blip on the radar in an industry with stalled growth -- depends on who you ask.

topics flat nest 

Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Parsonsburg, MD

The writing is on the wall

The cable TV industry has brought this on themselves. The number of subscribers will continue to decline, sometimes by small amounts & sometimes by large amounts, but continue it will. The only thing that will reverse the trend is massive subscription cuts or à la carte pricing.

It's just a matter of time now until it happens.

as Mr. Pink as they come
Phoenix, AZ

Re: The writing is on the wall

only thing keeping me: live NFL games and the fact of 'same day they air' on lesser watched channels[e.g. HGTV]
Despises any post with strings.

It's the content owners. They are screwing the cable companies, who are turning around and screwing the consumer.


1 edit

Re: The writing is on the wall

You forgot the TV network/channel operators.

Content producers/owners screw network/channel operators, operators screw cable/satellite/telco/etc. and then they screw end-users.

To fix this, governments will need to regulate how content owners/producers license their stuff to whoever wants it since it is unlikely the industry will behave itself any other way.


Re: The writing is on the wall

Not necessarily the rates, but forcing de-bundling would cause a rapid collapse of much of the industry, which would be a REALLY good thing. It would basically be applying the free market to the content, allowing competition between channels, and ultimately delivering much higher quality content.

Brunswick, MD

cord cutting is a misnomer

unless you go wireless only. I cancelled all tv from comcast two years ago and am internet only with them. When my basic cable and first tier internet surpassed 120/month that's when i claled up comcast and cancelled all services. They responded with BLast! for 45/month....which i took. I get all of my "tv" from amazon prime, netflix and other places online.


Limestone, ME
·Pioneer Wireless

I know I cut the cord

The pricing was far too much for entertainment for me YEARS AGO.

As long as I have internet, and a subscription to watch the quality shows I choose (without commercials) I NEVER see a reason to go back.

The only time I really miss cable is during the Superbowl and when I have to stay home sick. Other than that it's a waste of time. There's such little quality programming and so many useless channels.

And if the content isn't bad enough the ads are absurd. Try getting some time away from advertizing for a few weeks, then come back and take a good look at it.
You'd see just how absurd it is, trying to sell crap to solve problems that don't exist, wasting your time, money and resources.


Manchester, GA

2 recommendations

Re: I know I cut the cord

said by buzz_4_20:

Try getting some time away from advertizing for a few weeks, then come back and take a good look at it.

That was the very reason why I never made it through an Aereo trial. My wife and I used to watch the "news" in the mornings before heading out the door, cut TV services (and are out of range for OTA for all but 3 months of the year) almost 2 years ago and decided to give it a try again. I timed it, 43 minutes we had one of the stations on, and they played commercials for 35 of those minutes. The other 8 minutes of "news" were chittering and clucking by the people on screen.

What I learned is that TV really didn't offer me any life improvement. Cutting it made a rather drastic improvement in my quality of life, just because I wouldn't sit my asz on the couch and flip channels for 3 hours. Even now when I spend all day at home, chances are good that the TV will remain off for all but 2~3 hours. I'd rather be physically engaged, and baring that I've gotten back into reading ~ which is FAR more entertaining than anything I've seen on a screen in many, many years.

But, my wife and I are unicorns. We don't Really exist....
Winston Salem, NC
Where in the U.S. is the Superbowl not broadcast over-the-air?


Limestone, ME

Re: I know I cut the cord

When you live in the middle of nowhere and don't have a 50' tall antenna.



-Rental fee increases
-Poor support
-Channel flipping, moving
-Service interruptions
-Redundant channels
-Advertising and marketing revenue waste

What used to be $15/month for basic is now over $40 (fees, taxes, etc).
Notice all include only 3 tiers of "separation" (Basic, HD, Extreme) then PPV channels (like ShoTime, HBO, ESPN...)
Average package with phone, net, HDTV is $75mnth (typically a year or two commitment). Others admit it can be $100-$150/mnth in no time with packages, speeds, channels.

Want to know another cordcutter reason: economics. unemployment. housing bust. family. health. region climate (yeah, about those tornadoes...sad)

San Diego, CA

Is it really cord cutting if...

you still have the cord with internet from the same cable/telco provider? I mean more often than not, pay tv & internet runs on the same line. I guess my point is to truly cut the cord from a true technological standpoint, wouldn't one have to go with a WISP or some really expensive mifi service?



Re: Is it really cord cutting if...

No you could always put up an HDTV antenna and be 100% cord free for your TV. Dozens of free over-the-air OTA channels in most US cities



Re: Is it really cord cutting if...

agree... lots and good shows too

Dallas, TX
said by OTA FTW :

No you could always put up an HDTV antenna and be 100% cord free for your TV. Dozens of free over-the-air OTA channels in most US cities

The point remains that by far most people who say they are cutting the cord still have internet from a cable or telco providers. I'm sure there are people going down to OTA only with no internet at home at all, but those are few and far between.

And I agree with bookertdub: it's not really cutting the cord if you still get internet from a cable/telco provider.

Springfield, MO

Re: Is it really cord cutting if...

The phrase "cord cutting" is tied to traditional television delivery services. If you want to be extremely specific, satellite TV is included in that, and it's "wireless."


how else would you get internet?


Albuquerque, NM

2 edits

Cord removal

At our end we are sure feeling the fallout from the cord cutters. New subs that join us are from Comcast, Centurlink and Cable One. It's the best years we ever had.
Some of these folks are so unsatisfied with the hype on the net moving in to our city won't even
sign up with one of the big providers.

The people we sign up are just fed up with rate increases, poor customer service, outages and more.

And by the way the ads on TV, Radio just make me sick. 90% of the ads I see on a daily basis
make the Internet sales seem desperate. All Comcast "Xfinity" all the time.




1 recommendation


Channels with microblocking, blur, glitches etc. They should call it HD lite because customers are not getting the real experience. Instead of upgrading their system, and implement MPG-4 they rather load their pockets at the next quarterly earnings.