When I was a kid, having a choice of more than four television channels was unimaginable. By the 1980s, having a choice of less than twenty was just as unimaginable.
Before the economy went into the toilet, more people than ever had dozens — in some cases, hundreds — of local and national channels to surf through while still complaining that there was nothing on to watch.
Now, a new study shows that one in eight customers, roughly 12.5% of cable and satellite customers, say they plan to either eliminate or scale back their pay-TV service.
That doesn’t sound like a large number, until you consider that close to 90% of U.S. households subscribe to some form of pay-TV. Take that whopping number and slice out 12.5% and then you can see that cable and satellite providers have at least a little reason to worry.
Part of the problem is the whole retransmission battle, in which local stations and cable networks demand payment from pay-TV providers for carrying their signals. The pay-TV providers then recoup that money by raising rates, which ticks off the consumer, who then discovers that many of their shows are available online for free.
The study also shows that most customers pay an average of $71 a month and face . I pay $40, a discounted rate, which is included in my rent; everyone in my apartment complex pays this fee, whether they have a television or not, and they can receive “digital basic,” which consists of channels 2-99, no “digital tier” channels and no premium movie channels.
If I didn’t have to pay this money — you can’t opt out — I’d have dropped my service down to basic local reception, roughly $12 a month, a year ago.
Are you among the 12.5%? Are you watching any of your television shows online for free? Do you prefer it that way?