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Nearly 800,000 U.S. TV households ‘cut the cord,’ report says

April 14, 2010 by  


Make no mistake: The big cable, satellite, and telco carriers are still sitting pretty with more than 100 million TV subscribers. Nevertheless, a new report claims that more and more viewers are "cutting the cord" in favor of watching their favorite shows via over-the-air antennas (remember those?), Netflix, or the Web.

TechCrunch has the scoop on a new report from the Toronto-based Convergence Consulting Group, and though the figures may not be a "serious threat" to the big cable and satellite carriers yet, the trend might eventually spell trouble for the like of Cablevision, Comcast, DirecTV, and Time Warner Cable.

To wit: Nearly 800,000 households in the U.S. have "cut the cord," dumping their cable, satellite, or telco TV providers (such as AT&T U-verse or Verizon FiOS) and turning instead to Web-based videos (like Hulu), downloadable shows (iTunes), by-mail subscription services (Netflix), or even good ol’ over-the-air antennas for their favorite shows, according to the report.

Now, as TechCrunch points out, the estimated 800,000 cord cutters represent less than 1 percent of the 100 million U.S. households (give or take) currently subscribing to a cable/satellite/telco TV carrier, so it’s not like we’re talking a mass exodus here. But by the end of 2011, the report guesstimates, the number of cord-cutting households in the U.S. will double to about 1.6 million, and if the trend continues, well…

Even more trouble for the big carriers is the report’s assertion that U.S. TV watchers are getting a taste for online video, with an estimated 17 percent of the U.S. TV audience watching at least one or two shows online in a given week last year, up from just 12 percent in 2008, and set to rise to 21 percent this year.

Personally, I find the temptation to cut the cord pretty enticing, especially whenever I get a load of my monthly $130 cable bill (which includes unlimited broadband and HD but no premium channels). Why am I paying so much for all the hundreds of channels that I rarely ever watch, anyway? Wouldn’t it be easier — not to mention a lot cheaper — just to ditch my DVR and watch my favorite shows on iTunes and Hulu, catch up on the news via CNN.com, and be done with it?
There’s one important factor that’s keeping me from pulling my scissors out: live sports, and particularlyESPN, my 24-hour sports companion. Sure, as a football fan, I could keep up with the Jets and the Giants via over-the-air TV (although I’m not sure my landlord would be all that ecstatic about my installing a TV antenna on the roof of our Brooklyn brownstone), but without cable, I’d be left high and dry when it comes to Monday Night Football.

What about you? Anyone out there count themselves as one of the 800,000-plus cord-cutting households in the U.S.? If not, would you ever consider it, or are you too attached to basic cable?

Correction: This post originally said that 800,000 U.S. TV households "cut the cord" in 2009. They didn’t all cut the cord in 2009; the number reflects how many had cut the cord by the end of 2009 — a somewhat important distinction. Apologies for the goof.

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