2015: The Year Cord-Cutting (Finally) Takes Off?
For several years, we’ve heard that the demise of traditional pay-TV models like cable and satellite at the hands of cord-cutting was fairly imminent. Driven by the availability of quality – and in some cases exclusive – content via more moderately priced streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, the number of cord-cutters in the U.S. has grown each year, as more and more pay-TV customers grow weary of the price and quality of those services. However, we still haven’t seen that major impact on pay-TV we’ve been anticipating.
But while the en masse defection from cable and satellite hasn’t happened yet, cord-cutting has had at least an incremental effect. Case in point: at a time when people are spending less time per day on average watching traditional TV, subscriptions to streaming service continue to rise.
The main obstacle to cord-cutting has always been the hesitation to forego live TV programming, especially sports. Aerio tried to change that by offering what it called an “Internet antenna” service for $8 a month. Not surprisingly, the service proved to be incredibly popular in the markets where it was tested. But when the Supreme Court ruled in November that the company violated broadcasters’ copyrights, it essentially snuffed out what no doubt would have been a disruptive force.
Even though Aereo itself disappeared, in its short lifetime it demonstrated that there is an enthusiastic market for live TV via streaming. When satellite provider Dish TV (of all companies) announced its Sling TV at CES in January, the subscription service it was touted as the game-changing move toward eliminating the biggest impediment to cord-cutting. Sling TV offers a limited number of live TV channels, including CNN, ESPN, HGTV and Disney Channel, for $20 per month. Following suit, Sony’s PlayStation Vue service, currently available in select markets, which is expected to be available nationwide sometime this month, offers up to 85 live TV channels – including sports – for $49.99 to $69.99 per month, and Apple is working on similar services that will include live sports. Even networks themselves, most notably HBO and CBS, getting into the streaming game by offering their own subscription services.
These developments bode well for cord-cutting and combined with what recent studies and reports are finding, it’s no wonder that many have called 2015 the year of cord-cutting. And the numbers certainly seem to support that prediction. Check out our infographic “Cord Cutting by the Numbers” below.
Thinking of cutting the cord yourself? This post explains the basic steps that will get you on your way to paying less for TV.