Cable should be afraid: 11 million fewer viewers in 4 years

Puns aside, the cable industry has reason to fear. Research firm SNL Kagan is forecasting that 11 million people will cut out cable television in the next four years. The biggest losers: traditional cable companies that raise rates over and over and offer worse and worse service. Yes I mean you Spectrum. Just last quarter,100,000 people dumped their cable TV service.

At this point it’s pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention that streaming is the future of TV. That’s why the smart companies like AT&T have rolled out services like DIRECTV NOW that give customers some live TV and a whole bunch of on demand, all delivered over the internet. Companies like Comcast and Spectrum aren’t doing anything in that department.

No one is saying that the pay-tv industry will totally collapse in four years, and there will still be about 80 million people with pay television by that time. That’s still a majority, and so I don’t expect any of the pay providers to simply shut down. But if you’re on the board at Charter (parent of Spectrum) you’ve got to be thinking about your options at this point. If you’re not, then it’s not looking good for you.

For those people employed in the pay-TV industry, at least at the lower levels, there’s little to do but sit back and watch. If you’re an installer, you’re probably ok for quite some time to come since most installations also include internet and so you have those futureproof skills. On the other hand, anyone looking to make a career out of customer service should be concerned.

Yes, the writing probably is on the wall for pay television services as we know them, albeit not for about 20 years or so. The smart companies, like AT&T, are already preparing for the next wave. As for the dumb companies, they’ll do what they always do… wait for progress to steamroll them.