They're just not being driven by Internet video yet...
The New York Times recently issued yet another story that aims to downplay the slow but steady rise of Internet video and "debunk" cord cutting, noting that 88% of those surveyed still pay for TV service
. But while Internet video is certainly on a slow trajectory, it's silly to downplay the disruptive technology when nobody's really offered the perfect, inexpensive, and Luddite-proof broadband-driven living room solution yet. NewTeeVee
notes that there is
shift going on, illustrated by last quarter's cable subscriber losses:
cable companies lost 711,000 subscribers, which represents the biggest quarterly loss in cable TV's history. Six out of eight cable TV operators also reported their worst subscriber losses ever last quarter. Telcos and satellite TV providers were able to pick up some of those customers, posting combined gains of 495,000 subscribers. That still leaves 216,000 subscribers who cut the cord entirely.
Cord cutting is very real, though right now it's being driven primarily by the economy, not broadband video. What happens when Apple, Google, or an unknown upstart finally creates a broadband TV service that provides an inexpensive, simple, a la carte alternative to those annoying bi-annual cable rate hikes? Several studies
have shown there's a very significant number of TV watchers who are prepared to make the leap.
TV operators seem prepared to do everything possible to prevent that -- except reduce prices. Lodged in a dance of death between investors who want continual returns, and broadcasters who demand ever-increasing programming fees, the cable TV industry will likely continue to raise prices even as these disruptive upstarts start to seriously nibble at subscriber totals over the next decade.