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It's no secret that recent years have been a turning point in television viewing, with online streaming opening up an entirely new way of life for couch potatoes. But if there's anyone out there that held convictions for the cord-cutting revolution as nothing more than a conspiracy theory, it's hard to argue with a new report that claims more subscribers cancelled their traditional pay TV services in the first quarter of 2017 than in any annual first quarter in the medium's history.
After accumulating subscriber stats from a wide number of different TV services, the research firm MoffetNathanson estimates that around 762,000 cable/satellite subscriptions were cancelled in the first three months of 2017, according to MultiChannel.com. Moreover, when accounting for companies whose numbers couldn't be tallied and households that chose not to get Pay TV subscriptions, co-founder Craig Moffet estimates that around 1 million homes made a specific move to avoid traditional linear TV packages in Q1 2017.
By the company's estimations, Craig Moffet says Pay TV subscribers are dropping off at a rate of decline that hasn't been seen before, and that rate of decline is also accelerating faster than ever before. And while just the past three months have seen around 762,000 subscriptions cancelled, it's reported that there have been over 6.3 million homes that have cut the cord (or avoided starting service) since 2013, when the shift became more meaningfully measurable.
It's not just about the losses, either, even though big numbers like that would seemingly take all the attention. Another major factor to look at is the disappointing rate of growth when it comes to new Pay TV subscriptions. Around 157,000 new households came into being in Q1 2017, and while Moffett says that around 80% of the homes would sign up for TV services, that definitely isn't the case here.
While not wearing a sandwich board and hollering about the End of Days from a street corner, Craig Moffett is certainly not hopeful for the future, saying that this is "almost certainly just the beginning" of Pay TV's downward spiral. He cites the mass amount of viewing options as one reason for the exodus, and with Netflix subscriptions at a never-ending ascent (combined with rises for Hulu, Amazon, DirecTV Now, Apple TV and plenty of other streaming services), that exodus will only keep going barring some form of miraculous last-minute save from traditional Pay TV.
The decline in linear TV ratings for live primetime has definitely been affected by the losses in customers across the board. But the upshot here is that more people are getting used to watching TV shows beyond just on the nights they air, and networks are slowly starting to adapt to that mindset, which will only help everyone as time goes by. Sure, it'll be harder for CBS to see how many people are really watching NCIS across a dozen different platforms and timeframes, but we're betting execs are willing to do anything for advertising money.
Even though people may be pulling back on the Pay TV subscriptions, that doesn't mean anyone is pulling back on creating content, and you can check out everything coming to the small screen soon with our summer TV premiere schedule.