Americans cancel cable TV subscriptions

Approximately 1.8 million American households cancelled cable TV subscriptions during the first quarter of 2020 according to a report by Variety.

As Americans disconnect, TV providers are also feeling the pain.

With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping through the country during the winter months, cable and satellite-TV companies experienced a steady thaw of paying customers.

More alarming for cable companies is that the second quarter – with most of the country in lockdown mode – could cause even more hemorrhaging, analysts predict.

The combination of high monthly costs and the disappearance of live sports as unemployment rates roar to a staggering 15 per cent level have caused the steep cancellation rate, according to Wall Street research firm MoffettNathanson.

“At 63 per cent of occupied households, traditional pay TV penetration has reached a level not previously seen since roughly 1995.

“There are now as many nonsubscribing households as there were pay-TV subscribers in 1988,” explained analyst Craig Moffett.

As people dump subscriptions, the growth of cable networks’ affiliate fees is also taking a sharp hit, said UBS Securities analyst John Hodulik.

“We believe the (coronavirus) outbreak could drive modest acceleration in cord-cutting in the lockdown phase but more dramatic declines post-lockdown given the expected recession,” reasoned Hodulik.

“The absence of sports should pressure sports nets in the near term as distributors balk at paying high fees.”

The only notable subscription-TV services to add subscribers in the first quarter of 2020 were Hulu + Live TV, which signed up about 100,000 new people, and Google’s YouTube, which increased users by approximately 300,000 to reach 2.3 million, Moffett estimates.

Disney+ continues its robust spree, having signed up an astounding 54.5 million customers worldwide as of this week, less than six months after launching the service, reported CNBC earlier.