Skip to main content

Coronavirus lockdowns could be accelerating the death of cable

People are increasingly tuning into streaming services to keep themselves occupied while sheltering at home. Some of them might never return to cable. A survey conducted by The Trade Desk and YouGov suggests that coronavirus lockdowns could be accelerating cord-cutting in the United States.

The survey, that was carried out earlier this month on more than 2600 adults, found that 64% of U.S. households with at least one screen have either cut the cord with cable TV, never subscribed, or are planning to cancel subscriptions soon. As expected, the results were in favor of video-streaming platforms especially among millennials where that figure rose to 74%.

Of those households that still pay for cable, 11% will likely switch exclusively to online channels by the end of the year — remarkably higher than the 3% prediction eMarketer made last year.

“With only a quarter of young adults having any long-term interest in traditional cable TV, in a few years, we won’t be talking about linear or cable TV at all. It will all be online and streaming. For broadcasters and advertisers, it’s now all about how quickly they can pivot to where the eyeballs are moving and many of them are already investing heavily in order to succeed in a world of connected TV,” said The Trade Desk’s Chief Strategy Officer, Brian Stempeck.

The report adds that the shift is primarily driven by the worldwide suspension of live sports which is one of the major factors for why many (60%, in the United States) still have a cable TV subscription.

Cost, however, is a key hurdle that platforms like Netflix will have to figure out to overcome cable. Cord cutters today are forced to subscribe to multiple streaming sites to watch their favorite channels, unlike cable where they pay a fixed monthly fee for a bundle. About 35% of the households polled said they would prefer a free streaming service with advertising or some ads for a more affordable subscription. While incumbents such as Netflix have continued to steer clear of ads, newer platforms such as NBC’s Peacock have announced cheaper, ad-supported plans.

In the past few weeks, as more regions go under lockdown, streaming traffic has soared to record highs — so much so that platforms had to temporarily throttle their streaming quality. Without live sports and limited new entertainment content, it makes sense that cable TV is struggling to keep up with streaming services that offer a treasure trove of on-demand movies and shows. It remains to be seen, however, whether streaming platforms are able to retain these figures post-coronavirus as well.

Shubham Agarwal
Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. His work has previously appeared in Firstpost…
Why 2021 could be the beginning of the end for cable TV
end of cable tv

Wait. Yet another op-ed crowing about the death of cable TV? Haven’t we heard this like a million times before? Yes, it’s true: Digital Trends, along with virtually every other publication and pundit that observes technology has been making this prediction on a regular basis for years. But here and now, in 2021, the end of cable has a deeper feeling of inevitability than ever before. Here’s why.

The pandemic, which began in earnest one year ago, has forced many of us to rethink how we live our day-to-day lives. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to remain employed have had to rethink how we work, parents and caregivers have had to rethink how to manage their children's education, and we’ve all been forced to drastically rethink how we entertain ourselves.

Read more
Sling TV raises its prices by $5 per month for new subscribers
dish sling dashed cables leverage streaming espn 2

If you were hoping to cut the cord by signing up with Sling TV, we've got some bad news: The live TV streaming service has just announced a price increase that bumps its Sling Orange and Sling Blue packages to $35 per month -- $5  more than their previous $30 per month level. The combo Sling Orange + Blue package is also going up by $5 to $50 per month. The increase only affects new subscriptions for now, as the company's one-year price guarantee means existing customers can hold onto the lower prices until the end of  July 2021, as long as their subscription remains active.

"Unfortunately, we are forced to raise prices because the television networks keep charging us more," said Michael Schwimmer, Sling TV's group president. But Schwimmer insists that despite the increase, Sling TV is "still the best deal in the market," with prices that are much lower than cable and other live streaming services.

Read more
How to watch the 2021 Super Bowl, with or without cable
Patrick Mahomes waves his hand.

This year's Super Bowl -- the 55th edition of the mega-matchup -- takes place on Sunday, February 7, and it will be unlike any previous Super Bowl, due to the ongoing pandemic. Fan presence in the stadium will be limited to just 22,000 occupants, and unlike last year, you won't be able to view the game in 4K or HDR.

But whether Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida is packed with fans or not, you'll still be able to watch all of the gridiron action and halftime glitz from home.

Read more