How Streaming Services Are Crushing Cable Today

September 29, 2016

6:30 pm

In 2015, the number of US households that paid for internet streaming TV but not for cable hit 10.5 million, up 12 percent from 2012. In 2016, cable’s dropping even further in a couple different metrics. Specifically, top networks are seeing an avalanche of viewers dropping out in the recent fall premieres, which coincides with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) cancelling its annual trade show. The NCTA had hosted a convention once a year for the past 65 years.

In short, it looks like streaming services are continuing to sap the numbers of live audiences for cable.

Fall Premieres Dropped Double Digits

The top four networks — NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC — saw a significant decline in live viewership for the 2016 Fall premieres. Ratings are down 12 percentage points across the board, Hollywood Reporter confirmed. The article quoted analyst Sam Armando on the ratings, and he had this to say: “Nothing’s breaking out like last year. But we’re seeing some consistent performance across the different nights of the week.”

NCTA Cancelled Its 2017 Event

NCTA’s annual event, titled “INT” and intially planning to debut April 2017 in Washington, D.C., has been cancelled. Previously called the Cable show and the National show, the event’s 65-year-long history has ended. The reason? A shrinking network within the cable industry. Variety reports:

“Once a must-attend event for cable TV bizzers, the NCTA’s annual show has declined in relevance in recent years — in no small part because of consolidation in the industry. With Comcast, AT&T/DirecTV, Charter Communications and Dish Network representing the bulk of U.S. pay-TV subscribers, programmers and other vendors have less need for in-person trade shows to negotiate deals.

An NCTA spokesman declined to say whether there will be layoffs associated with the shutdown of the trade show.”

Streaming Is Taking Over in Some Areas

Data has already shown streaming services to be doing well as cable suffers. In the sports world, for instance, ESPN has intentionally branched out in streaming. As Tech.co explained several months ago:

“Cord-cutters are demanding access to the sports that they won’t pay cable for. ESPN’s response is fairly savvy: They offer all their content to every subscriber across devices, from TV to laptop to mobile. Users willing to pay for cable will be able to enjoy content when they want, where they want. Sadly, both consumers and corporations are moving faster than the polls that advertisers rely on to set prices: Neilsen still doesn’t account for mobile data when determining how well TV networks are doing with audiences.”

Consumers are driving the market, and, as the fall ratings indicate, that market is continuing a strong shift away from live cable and towards streaming services.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He’s based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state’s slogan: “sayWA.” In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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