Even before Apple, Disney, Warner and NBCUniversal have launched their streaming services, cord cutting has sent the traditional US pay TV market into freefall. Every day, more than 20,000 US households cut the cord.
Cord-cutting gathers pace
2017 and 2018 were bad but 2019 has developed into something much more ugly. Worse still is the fact that traditional pay TV providers seem unable to reverse the trend. Cord-cutting is accelerating each quarter.
AT&T leads the pack as it lost another 1.36 million video subscribers, including 195,000 AT&T TV Now subscribers, in Q3 2019. Over the last year, AT&T has lost 14% of its video customers. Even before Dish and Altice have reported numbers, total Q3 2019 losses approach 2 million households. In other words, more than 20,000 US household cut the cord every day.
Losses are happening across cable, satellite, IP and OTT as Americans are abandoning traditional TV channels and bundles. It is also noteworthy that we are seeing these events unfold before many major players have launched new streaming services that tend to replace pay TV bundles. Apple and Disney will both launch streaming services in November 2019, while Warner (owned by AT&T) and NBCUniversal (owned by Comcast) will do so by spring 2020.
The dark clouds over the US pay TV market are unlikely to disappear in the foreseeable future. With the launch of new streaming services, content owners will increasingly start to pull content from pay TV to make it available exclusively online. Some of the most popular classic TV series will head to new streaming services over the next few years.
What is happening elsewhere? Some European markets are showing signs of something similar brewing but the streaming landscape is less developed in this region.
Unless the companies manage to stop the bleeding, the traditional US pay TV market will almost completely vanish within the next 10 years. With further acceleration in cord-cutting, it could happen even sooner. Is something better waiting on the other side? We shall see.
- Source: Earnings reports, Fiercevideo.com