Story 2014-03-20 3GG Cable TV subscribers down for the first time

Cable TV subscribers down for the first time

in movies on (#3GG)
The Cord Cutting movement , in which people choose to do away with cable TV packages in lieu of entertainment provided over the Internet, seems to be picking up the pace. In 2013, the number of American cable TV subscribers dropped for the first time ever, and by the impressive amount of 105,000. A recent report by the Leichtman Research Group finds that the top nine cable companies lost about 1.8 million video subscribers in 2013 (more than they lost in 2012), while other providers gained some users, for a total (net) loss. 2013 was the first year numbers dropped.

Just a blip on the radar? Or the beginning of something more?
Reply 11 comments

First time cable subscriber (Score: 4, Insightful)

by on 2014-03-20 12:19 (#Q0)

I believe a large proportion of the general populations wants to watch TV and movies in general. The main thing is we want to watch what we want, when we want, at a fair price relative to income.

If cable companies can compete, subscriptions will stay up. If not, they will drop. What I find interesting is that as internet subscriptions rise in cost without cable added, and basic cable subscriptions drop when added to internet, the value proposition of a cable subscription can rise, especially for live sports, which is why I just got into my first cable subscription.

Beginning of something more. (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-03-20 14:43 (#Q8)

I'm seriously thinking about cutting the cord. It's so damn expensive for what you get. Even the ability to DVR shows is not really worth it compared to Netflix and Hulu Plus - and those are the only two I've paid for. Just imagine if I squandered the $150+ per month I'm spending on cable on internet services instead.

The only things keeping me from doing it: current shows I like and the ability to find new ones at random. Still... I could really use that money. Those shows are only going to keep me from cutting the cord for so long. The day my favorites go off the air, there'll be a curious "schnick!" sound in AT&T's ears...

Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-03-20 18:10 (#Q9)

Live sports keeps me interested in cable subscriptions right now. I might watch 3-4 events a week (football game, basketball game, couple of soccer games, for example). $1/game would take me to $20/month pretty quick, whereas $5/game would take me to $100/month pretty quick. My interest in cable subscriptions falls closer to the $1/game, $20/month valuation which is what I am currently paying. I'm not sure that internet replacements actually compete with this yet. What they do boast are the premium and niche games which may not always make it onto cable channels. I like shows too, but I can live without these so they do not drive my willingness to pay for cable, in general.

Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 4, Informative)

by on 2014-03-20 19:35 (#QD)

**Everything**, including live sports is available, for free, via xbmc and its plugins.

I cut the cord 2 years ago and have yet to miss any live sporting event I have an interest in.

As a disclaimer, I actually *do* subscribe to NHL Gamecenter ($150 (US) per season) and the reason is at least three-fold:

1) my access to my precious hockey fix is *guaranteed* (just in case the free stuff goes away (doubtful, though: it actually keeps improving))
2) it gives me access to archived and classic games, condensed games, highlights, etc.
3) I can access it on multiple devices...

Also, there are thousands of live streams available, including all the regular US networks (Canada, not so much, except for live sporting events....)

I realize ymmv, but I've also acquired an indoor ota antenna from China ($16) with which I can access 12 ota channels. If I were to mount an outdoor antenna (less than $100) I'd be able to pickup at least 35 ota channels. I don't have the urge, though, because ota represents less than 10% of the tv's use: it wouldn't be missed.


Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-03-21 13:06 (#R3)

Screw it. I'm going through with it. I spent yesterday running the numbers.

I've got DirecTV and I'm paying $165/mo for expanded programming plus HBO/etc, two tuners, two televisions, and some friggin' insurance thingy that we got because there's a kid in the house. Here's my costs for replacing that with what's available online.

One time costs:
  • $99 for a Roku - unless I wait till mid-April, and then it's $50
  • $100 termination fee for the cable
  • -$165 next month for dropping the cable.
Total up front costs: $34 .

Recurring costs:
  • Already paying for Netflix - $17/mo. (I actually get and mail back DVDs. It's awesome.)
  • Already paying for Hulu Plus - $8/mo.
  • Aereo - $8/mo. Starts with a free month trial and is available in my city.
  • Amazon Prime - $99/year. Another free month trial thing.
  • Plex - free, or $4/mo if I decide to get fancy.
Total monthly charge: $45.25 , and I was already paying more than half of that already anyway.

All the shows I watch, I can get. Any shows I can't get "officially", I can toss into Plex - with subtitles, even, and no annoying "extra content" about car theft. Any shows I want to keep permanently, I can buy the DVD for with the $120 worth of "wiggle room" per month from dropping cable - and I'd have to buy 6 new releases at full price before I hit the levels I was spending before. Nobody buys that many new releases per month. Plus, once I've done that, I will own a physical fucking copy , not revokable "digital media" crap. There is literally no reason for me not to do this.

Worst part? I don't even like sports. I have no idea why I was wasting all this money before. Thanks, guys.

My cable company thinks otherwise, of course. I'll be talking to them later today, and they will no doubt give me the hard sell and desperately try to keep me. I just don't see how they can match this, though.

Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-03-21 14:54 (#R5)

Talked to the cable company. Mentioned the one reason I wouldn't mind keeping service: HBO. The lowest they could get it to was $80/month due to minimum programming requirements before you could even purchase HBO. My service is going byebye at the start of April now. Hello, Roku.

Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 1)

by on 2014-03-21 15:34 (#R6)

Thanks for spelling out your calculations and thought process. Most informative... I particularly like the idea of taking the "saved" money and buying the "physical" copies, if you care too. I've thought about that but never got around to actually buying any, unless you count "Fawlty Towers" -- gosh, I love that show.

Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-03-21 21:45 (#RE)

Although there is a bit of a time delay, I'm happy with the blurays of HBO's Game of Thrones and Rome from Netflix.

Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-03-21 15:37 (#R7)

I looked at a few YouTube videos and "plugins for xbmc" does seem like a viable option; reminds me of my attempts to use Sopcast in previous years. I tend to like getting "official" streams/views, if possible though, so in some cases it looks like there is still a reason to subscribe and pay as you do with NHL Gamecenter.

Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-03-22 01:53 (#RG)

I stopped regularly watching television almost 14 years ago and I really don't feel like I'm missing anything. It seems like such a waste of time to me now.

Re: Beginning of something more. (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-03-23 22:12 (#RV)

I think it's about 15 years off cable for us. We seriously do not miss it one single bit. We declared the money saved each month to be our DVD budget, and we rarely cut into that too deeply. We have half a wall of shelves full of legitimately purchased DVDs and we saved money - rather a lot of it - in the process.

Take that, Rupert Murdoch, you slimy SOB.