Cable subscriptions to American providers are suffering. With the advent and growing popularity of streaming services, subscriptions to cable services is at its lowest since 1992. That culminated with a massive dip in subscriptions in the first quarter of 2023.
Variety notes that the losses in cable subscriptions hit 2.3 million in just the first three months of 2023, according to industry analysts. Total pay-TV subscriptions now has market penetration of just 58.5%. This is the figure that is at its lowest since the early 1990s. Note that this pay-TV measure does include options like YouTube TV, Hulu or Fubo. After all, those are direct cable replacements. 75.5 million American households had cable subscriptions or other pay-TV subscriptions. This is down 7% on an annual basis.
For reference, YouTube TV was the only one of those three to gain subscribers in the first quarter of 2023. MoffettNathanson, a New York research institute, estimates Google’ service added 300,000 subscribers. Meanwhile, Hulu dropped around 100,000 live TV subscribers in Q1. Meanwhile, Fubo had its worst quarter on record with 160,000 subscribers lost.
US cable subscriptions could go even lower
Streaming services, the bane of pay-TV, allows for more personalized and individual content options. Worse news for these options is that ESPN, one of the main draws for cable options, has plans for its own streaming channel. the ‘Flagship’ project is the plan to make the ESPN TV channel available via streaming. This would not take it off cable or pay-TV subscriptions, but it would take away the incentive for many Americans to get cable or pay-TV just to have ESPN.
MoffettNathanson also made predictions that pay-TV does have a floor, or a bare minimum when it comes to subscriptions. That, as of now, is around 50 to 60 million. Yet, Craig Moffett, a senior analyst at the institute, expects cord-cutting to get even more severe. “As things stand, we expect cord-cutting to grow even worse and the long-theorized ‘floor’ to be breached.”
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