Survey: Six In 10 Cable TV Subscribers Cut Cord; More Likely To Unsubscribe

CHICAGO—Results of a December 2018 survey released this week by Waterstone Management Group paint a rather dire picture for the cable TV industry: 59 percent of subscribers nationally have cancelled their plans and another 29 percent are considering it.

“I think it is pretty obvious that cable TV is going to go away, at least in the form that we’ve known it,” says Andy Kerns, creative director of Digital Third Coast and primary researcher on Waterstone’s cord-cutting survey. ”I think the story right now is about how quickly it is happening.”

Idaho registered the highest percentage of people who have cut the cord at 72 percent, followed by Kentucky at 70 percent, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona at 69 percent and South Dakota at 68 percent.

The states with the lowest percentage of unsubscribes include Virginia at 51 percent, Alabama and Massachusetts at 50 percent, Pennsylvania, Hawaii and Connecticut at 49 percent, Mississippi at 47 percent and New Jersey at 36 percent, the survey found.

Seven states had too few responses to be included in the analysis, according to Waterstone. They included Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming and North Dakota.

Although the survey didn’t examine why people are cutting the pay TV cord, Kerns identified price and original content as likely reasons. “Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services were initially competitive on price,” he says. “But they have also been investing in an incredible amount of original content. That seems to have accelerated this battle with traditional cable.”

The survey also did not ask about the efforts of traditional pay TV providers to preserve subscribers by offering their own SVOD services.

For the survey, Waterman contacted 5,000 people age 18 to 69 across the United States via Mechanical Turk, an Amazon-powered survey platform. Respondents were paid to participate.

More information is available on the Waterstone Management Group website.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.