The average monthly bill for basic cable in the United States usually ranges between $50 and $80 depending on factors such as location, government mandates, and channel packages. The rise of cable in the last few decades has revolutionized the way we watch television and turned cable into somewhat of a necessity for the middle class family household. Unfortunately, many cable subscribers have become complacent with their cable providers and fallen victim to increasing prices, multiple unnecessary fees, and paying for channels they never watch. A few former cable customers have realized this injustice and have removed themselves from the cruel grips of their cable provider.
These people are known as “Cord Cutters”. These people are the one’s among us who live without paying a cable bill. And they crazy part is, they still consume content produced for television. The only thing more ubiquitous in this country than television is the internet, and though it seems like the a perfect complement to television it is actually its biggest threat. Cord Cutters use internet services and other devices to watch free broadcast channels, online subscription services, and on demand services to consumer their media content.
The predominant service in this new cordless universe is the subscription service Netflix. For $8 per month you can gain access to over 50,000 movie and TV series titles and watch them for an unlimited amount of time. All that is needed is an internet connection and a device that connects to it.
Along with Netflix there are other subscription services that stream content for a relatively low price compared to cable. Hulu Plus is also just $8 per month and has a library of movies and shows while adding new episodes of currently airing shows. Amazon Prime also offers over 17,000 titles. With these services there have been a lot of devices like the Roku and the Chrome Cast that allow you to stream these services very easily over wifi.
While subscription services are the most popular substitutes to cable, consumers have also started invested in high powered HD digital antenna’s for their television. These antenna’s make it possible to access high definition broadcast channels such as CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, CW, and PBS for free. For some, these channels are the only one’s necessary yet many still pay for a cable bill.
The significance of these advancements is that consumers no longer need to rely on cable providers to consume the high quality entertainment that cable television has brought in the past. The services available make it possible to consume high quality content with a more flexible and efficient user experience. If cable subscribers were more aware of these availabilities, companies like Comcast and Time Warner wouldn’t hold so much power over our content.
The recent merger between the two companies, Comcast and Time Warner, has been a major issue with cable subscribers as the two companies were the two largest cable providers in the companies and for many customers these two services were the only services available in their area. The merging of the two create a market dominance that is similar to the market dominance of AT&T — T-Mobile Deal that was shot down for antitrust reasons. The New York Magazine posted this article online on why the merger should be blocked by the U.S. government. Of course, the merger wasn’t blocked, but since the announcement the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division has launched an investigation.
This coming week I will be at the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas where I will be attending a session on audience measurement and how cording-cutting is affecting the industry. I’ve posted three questions at the end of this article that I plan to ask and have answered in the session dealing with the impact cord cutting has had on cable television. I will post my findings when I get back!
Cord Cutting has garnered somewhat of a community of supporters and advocates. The most popular are online like reddit.com/r/cordcutters and cordcutterforum.com and you can learn much more about cord cutting in these communities. If you’re interested in learning how to “cut the cord”, USA today has provided a 4-part web series to get you on your way to becoming a cord cutter.
1. Have cable providers seen a noticeable impact on revenue due to “cord cutting”?
2. Is the Comcast and Time Warner merger likely to go through? If so what does that mean for consumers?
3. Is measuring cord cutters useful to professionals in the audience measurement industry? Why?
– Mitch Ingstad