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U.S. Cable TV Industry’s Rapid Decline Continues: Over 6.9 Million Customers Cut the Cord in 2023

Leichtman Research Group recently released the cable customer counts for the largest providers of traditional cable service at the end of 2023. LRG compiles most of these numbers from the statistics provided to stockholders, except for Cox and Mediacom—they now combine an estimate for both companies. Leichtman says this group of companies represents 96% of all traditional U.S. cable customers.

I suspect there are regular blog readers who wonder why I post these statistics every quarter. There are several reasons.

  • I find it fascinating to watch the slow train wreck of the implosion of the cable TV industry. Recall that the big cable companies like Comcast and Charter got so large through selling only cable TV and no other products. Technology let them compete and then beat telcos for broadband customers, but they already had a huge number of customers in 2000 when broadband competition kicked off in earnest.
  • I’m fascinated to see that there are still over 55 million households buying cable TV from the largest companies. A lot of folks have completely written off cable TV as irrelevant, and a thing of the past, but 42% of households are still buying a traditional cable TV package. Roughly 30 million homes have cut the cord since 2018, but there are still 55 million more homes that might someday migrate all of their video to broadband networks.

The traditional cable providers continue to lose customers at a torrid pace, losing 1.7 million customers in the third quarter. Overall, traditional cable providers lost over 18,700 customers every day during the quarter. The overall penetration of traditional cable TV is now down to 42% of all households, down from 73% at the end of 2017.

In the fourth quarter, Comcast dropped from being the large cable provider and fell below Charter. Losses were big across the board, and only Charter, Verizon, and Breezeline lost less than 10% of the cable customer base for the year. The traditional cable providers lost over 6.9 million cable customers for the year—with only a fourth of those customers choosing an online cable substitute.

In the fourth quarter, online cable substitutes like YouTube and Hulu Live picked up 1,476,000 customers, almost all by YouTube. For the year, these providers added almost 1.9 million customers.

By Doug Dawson, President at CCG Consulting

Dawson has worked in the telecom industry since 1978 and has both a consulting and operational background. He and CCG specialize in helping clients launch new broadband markets, develop new products, and finance new ventures.

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But how many cord-cutters still have broadband? Larry Seltzer  –  Apr 26, 2024 2:05 PM

Most of the people I know who have “cut the cord” haven’t really done so but just canceled their cable TV service. They still buy Internet service from the same company. But there are a lot of people who get all their Internet service through their mobile provider, and personally I couldn’t function this way. If my kids had to work from home during COVID and they had to use a mobile-connected Chromebook or something like that I wouldn’t expect good results.

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