New numbers from Comcast all but confirm cord-cutting trend.
The nation’s largest cable company may now be better known as the nation’s largest internet company, as Comcast’s internet subscribers have surpassed cable TV subscribers for the first time. The numbers don’t lie, and they tell a clear story of what is happening in the pay-TV industry right now. While some continue to deny that people are cutting the cord in large numbers, the trend away from pay-TV is undeniable. It may simply be a matter of new subscribers opting for bandwidth alone and not TV service, as older customers more likely to subscribe to a triple-play of cable TV, internet, and phone service exit the market. Digital native millennials in particular seem to have little interest in pay-TV, with many of them having grown accustomed to finding content online. Many college campuses offer internet access but not pay-TV in university-owned housing, so for four years, young adults are largely being conditioned to live without pay-TV, leaving them in no hurry to sign up when they eventually move into homes and apartments of their own. With cable bills averaging $86 a month, and frequently topping triple digits, who can blame them?
Other cable companies have already experienced this shift, but being the largest cable provider in the nation by far, it’s especially significant that even Comcast’s flagship Xfinity TV service is now a secondary business to providing bandwidth. It won’t be long before all TV providers follow this trend. One has to wonder what the breaking point is for the television industry that largely depends on per-subscriber revenue from the TV providers. As those cable subscribers continue to dry up, and content prices continue to rise, it sets the stage for quite a clash between the TV providers and cable networks, both of whom will be squeezed as they try to divvy up a smaller and smaller pie. And if there’s one lesson to be learned here, it’s that attempting to delay the inevitable by upping prices will in fact only hasten cable TV’s decline.