This chart (below) from ISI Group tells you all you need to know about the fate of cable TV in the age of the iPad: Since Q1 2010, 2.3 million people have stopped their cable video subscriptions from companies such as Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner Cable; many switched to broadband provided by telco companies or satellite TV operators.Currently, there are only 41.5 million U.S. cable video subscribers.
I’ve been arguing for a while now that Americans are on the cusp of a dramatic change in how they watch video. They’re moving to video over the internet. Traditional TV is dying, in much the same way that in the mid-2000s we all largely stopped using hardwired telephones to make calls in favour of wireless mobile mobile phones.
Hardwired phones are still a big business, of course, and most households still have them. But they’re really a vestigial offshoot of whatever bundled communications package you’ve bought.
It looks like cable is about to go the same way. Although its subscriber numbers are dwindling, subscriber numbers for satellite TV and broadband phone/internet service remain relatively healthy, as the second chart (below) shows. That suggests to me that there is a growing number of households choosing a broadband package with the internet as their top priority, and a dwindling number choosing it based on TV.
Ironically, the fall has come at a time when cable is making more ad money than ever. It’s a supply-and-demand issue: It may be that cable TV’s audience is dwindling, but it’s still one of the few venues that reliably delivers millions of eyeballs all at once.
First, the cable TV chart, based on numbers from ISI Group:
Here’s the market share situation. Note that 2011 was a threshold year, when cable slipped from having more than 50 per cent of the market to less:
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