Written by: Brooke Gaines
June 13, 2024

Cable TV used to be the top choice for entertainment in many homes. 

It had many channels, live broadcasts, and bundled packages. However, things have changed, such as “Is Cable TV dying?– one of the leading concerns. All because:-

  • Cable TV has lost many subscribers in recent years
  • There is a rise in streaming services
  • Experts are unsure if cable TV will survive

In this article, I will discuss various reasons behind Cable TV’s decline, how media companies handle it, some demographic differences, and what is in store for Cable TV in the future. So, let’s dig into the details!

Cable TV Recently Lost Many Subscribers

Between 2019 and 2022, cable TV lost nearly 6 million subscribers. This decline in subscribers clearly indicates the challenges cable TV is currently facing. 

Additionally, the rise of streaming services (over 1.8 billion) has played a major role in declining cable TV subscriptions. 

In fact, a study by Gitnux predicts that 69.8% of U.S. households will cut their cable TV subscriptions by 2024. It further highlights the mass departure of consumers from traditional cable services. 

Cable TV Lost Many Subscribers
Source: Just Dial

However, despite the overall decline in cable TV subscribers, about 56% of US adults are still inclined toward the traditional convenience of Cable TV. 

This demographic divide underscores the challenge cable TV providers face in adapting to consumers’ changing preferences. 

Four Potential Reasons Behind Cable’s Decline

Check out the leading reasons why Cable TV has dropped in popularity as well as consumption:-

1. Cost vs. Value

Cable TV packages have been steadily increasing, often exceeding $100 per month. Imagine this: you pay for a big cable package but only watch a few channels regularly. Which results in the average monthly cable TV bill ranging from $114 to $217.)

Most of the time, out of 100 offered channels, viewers only watch dedicated 3-4 ones. 

This frustration with paying for unwanted channels and the lower costs of streaming services (often around $10-$15 per month) is a major reason people switch.

2. Content Accessibility

Streaming services offer on-demand content, giving viewers more control over what they watch and when. Unlike cable, which has set schedules, streaming lets you easily pause, rewind, and fast-forward shows and movies. 

Streaming services also have a wider variety of programming than cable TV, including original shows and movies not found elsewhere.

3. Technological Advancements

Technology has made streaming services more convenient than ever before. Smart TVs come with built-in apps for popular streaming services. 

So, you can easily start watching your favorite shows without additional devices. 

Additionally, high-speed internet connections are becoming increasingly common, making it easier to stream videos without buffering or lag.

4. Viewer Preferences

The way we watch TV is changing. People are no longer content with watching shows on a set schedule. They want to watch what they want, whenever they want. 

This shift in viewer habits has led to a trend towards smaller, more targeted cable bundles. 

However, even these smaller bundles can be expensive, and many viewers are finding that they can get the channels they want for less by subscribing to individual streaming services.

Media Companies’ “Streaming” Response To Decline In Cable Consumption

Media companies are adapting to the decline in cable consumption by launching their own streaming platforms. For example, Disney has Disney+, WarnerMedia has HBO Max, and NBCUniversal has Peacock. These platforms offer:

  • Exclusive content
  • On-demand viewing options
Streaming Media Companies
Source: Tom’s Guide

It caters to viewers’ changing preferences. By creating their own streaming services, media companies can reach a wider audience and compete with established streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. 

This shift towards streaming reflects the industry’s recognition of the need to evolve in order to stay relevant.

Cable TV: Demographic Differences 

The transition from cable TV to streaming services has not affected all demographic groups equally. Data reveals some stark contrasts in viewing habits across age groups:

  • Younger Viewers Embrace Streaming: According to a Pew Research study, only 34% of adults aged 18-29 had cable TV subscriptions in 2021, down from 65% in 2015. 

Younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials have demonstrated a much higher propensity to cut the cord and adopt streaming platforms.

  • Older Viewers Stick with Cable: In contrast, Ipsos found that 49% of Baby Boomers still use cable TV, and 59% watch 10 or more hours of TV per week. Older demographics have shown a stronger attachment to the traditional cable TV model.

This generational divide highlights how the future of the TV industry may evolve differently for younger and older viewers. Cable companies will need to tailor their strategies to address the unique preferences of these diverse demographic groups.

Cable TV: Economic Impact Of The Shift To Streaming

The TV industry has significantly contributed to the economy, accounting for over $200 billion in annual economic activity in the US (Variety). 

83% of the average US household spends on TV-related expenses, including cable/satellite subscriptions, streaming services, and other equipment (Leichtman Research Group). The transition to streaming has far-reaching implications:-

  • Employment in the TV Sector: Cable TV has historically been a major employer, with jobs ranging from content production to cable installation and customer service. 

As the industry transforms, there is concern about the potential impact on employment. By the end of 2027, it is expected to grow around $73 Billion (Variety).

  • Advertising Revenue: Cable TV has long been a crucial platform for advertisers to reach consumers. Advertisers are expected to spend $870.85 billion on TV ads in 2027. 

The shift to streaming, with its more targeted advertising capabilities, is disrupting traditional advertising models and revenue streams.

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Conclusion: Cable TV trends is slowly decaying

Ultimately, the long-term survival of cable TV is far from certain in the face of the streaming revolution. 

However, by adapting to their new market realities, cable companies may survive the decline. 

Following are some changes that would decide the fate of the Cable industry:-

  • Discontinuing the early termination fees
  • Reduce the hidden fees and extra subscription rates
  • Customise channel packages
  • High-quality content with original TV shows and movies

So, the impending question, “Is Cable TV truly nearly its death?” – only time will tell.


Is cable TV on the decline?

Cable TV is declining as consumers increasingly turn to streaming services for the flexibility and convenience they offer.

Is cable TV going away?

While cable TV maintains a substantial customer base, its future appears uncertain as more viewers, particularly younger generations, opt for the on-demand and personalized content available through streaming platforms.

Are people getting rid of cable TV?

Many consumers are choosing to forego traditional cable TV subscriptions in favor of streaming services, driven by cost-effectiveness, content variety, and the ability to watch on the go.

Why is cable TV becoming obsolete?

The rise of streaming, changing viewer preferences, and technological advancements have all contributed to the gradual obsolescence of the traditional cable TV model as it struggles to compete with the accessibility and personalization offered by digital platforms.

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