Yes, cable companies are still making money hand-over-fist on their pay television services but they’re doing it by squeezing more revenues out of a shrinking customer base. A new article from USA Today suggests that cable companies may not be able to keep this game up forever, however, and cites a “perfect storm of online video, new devices, rising prices and programming blackouts” that is “eroding traditional pay-TV providers’ grip on the living room.” USA Today reports that a recent survey from The Diffusion Group research firm shows that 7% of cable TV subscribers say they’re “highly inclined” to cancel their service over the next six months.
While this may not sound like much, USA Today notes that TV subscriber losses could quickly snowball on cable companies as consumers’ faster web connections give them more options for watching content online, either through legal sources such as Netflix and Hulu or illegal sources such as The Pirate Bay and other BitTorrent streaming sites. The rise of net-connected TV devices such as Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast has only accelerated this trend, as nearly 9% of users who owned such devices said they were “highly inclined” to cut the cord over the next six months.
“Something has happened in the minds of these consumers when they have been exposed to these online video services via these Net-connected TVs,” Diffusion Group president Michael Greeson tells USA Today. “They are more likely to cut the cord because of the availability of these other services.”
All that said, it looks as though cable television’s death will be long and slow rather than quick: Although pay-TV adoption is on the decline, it’s still projected to be used by 79% of households next year. So while pay television may not be around forever, cable companies can probably keep it going for many more years to come.