Pay TV Records First Full-Year Subscriber Drop


Last Updated on August 4, 2022

For the first time in history, the Pay TV industry — cable, satellite and telco — saw a year-to-year drop in subscribers.

Have you cut the cord with your cable television? Did you disconnect your satellite service? Or are you among the many who say they’re “thinking about it?”

People love to talk about how much they hate having hundreds of channels with nothing to watch, and for the first time, the Pay TV industry recorded a year to year decline in subscribers.

To be completely fair, the net loss of 255,000 subscribers may look big, but as Variety reports, compared to the 110 million subscribers out there, it’s a drop in the bucket.

Still, it’s a first for the industry, and even though it represents a small percentage, it’s worth noticing.

It’s also worth noticing that the bulk of the drop comes from the cable side of things; though cable had a good fourth quarter, it couldn’t make up for losses of subscribers earlier in the year.

I’ve had cable television since I was about ten or eleven years old. Back then, we had approximately 20 new channels to add to our local ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS affiliates on the dial. Suddenly, we had the option of watching WTCG (which later became Superstation WTBS, then just TBS). We could watch WTTG in Washington DC. Or, in the evenings — they only broadcast from about 5 p.m. until some time overnight — we could catch a movie on Home Box Office (which we now know only as HBO).

My apartment community worked out a deal with the local cable provider and now we all get a discount rate, but the downside is that we couldn’t opt-out if we wanted to. At least there’s a handful of customers they can count on.

For people in apartments, satellite is rarely an option. I do not have a Netflix account — or an account with any other similar service. And while I think that Tivo is one of the greatest inventions in the world, I can’t have one because my particular cable subscriber wasn’t able to provide a cable card that would work for longer than a day, so I don’t even have Tivo.

While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and admit that I don’t even own an HD television set. Mine are still the old-style, 4×3 standard definition set most of us grew up with. The one I’m watching as I type this is probably ten years old, but still works.

And I know that as soon as I purchase that HD set, cable will come calling with higher fees for an HD feed, I’ll want to buy a Blu-Ray player and I’ll face the temptation of buying Blu-Ray versions of movies I already have on DVD. It’s an avalanche of expense I’d just as soon delay as long as possible.

Netflix and similar services, along with sites like YouTube, however, seem to be possible alternatives that are attracting people. I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory answer from anyone who belongs to a service like Netflix, however, about the availability of shows: I would want one service, whatever it is, that would have all the shows I’d want to see. Having to start paid memberships with multiple services, to me, would defeat the purpose of cutting the cord. If I’m paying $15 a month or so to three different sites, I’m not saving a dime.

And to top it off, I’m gambling that my internet provider won’t suddenly start charging me more because I’m suddenly downloading more content.

There’s a potential avalanche of expense hanging over us on the other side of the mountain, too.

Your Turn:

How much television do you watch? Do you have a Pay TV subscription or have you cut the cord? If you’ve cut the cord, how do you watch TV?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.