SOUND OFF: Will you return to pay-TV when the world goes back to normal?

Cord-cutting has moved along at a record pace this year. Of course, this year has brought challenged that we never would have expected, and that’s affected all of our plans.

For many people, cord-cutting is driven by a need to keep costs down. There’s a lot of free content available from an antenna, and with some careful picking and choosing you can get a lot of content over the internet for free. Sure, you’ll pay quite a lot if you want a top-tier service like HBO or Netflix. But there are free services like Vudu, Tubi, and Pluto that give a lot of content. If you spend enough at Amazon to pay for Prime — and who doesn’t these days — Prime Video is also free to you.

Conscious uncoupling

One surprising trend in cord-cutting this year involves people canceling cable because they just aren’t using it. I would have thought that people would have put off canceling cable because they just needed more stuff to watch while they were quarantined. I still think a lot of people have kept their traditional pay-TV around, although we won’t know for sure until we see the presentations from Comcast, Charter, and other companies. Here’s one fact: satellite TV activations have spiked among people buying RVs and boats, because streaming isn’t always a good option in those cases.

So, I’m speaking to the people who cut out pay-TV for whatever reason in 2020. Whether you flat out couldn’t afford it, or chose to save a few bucks for a rainier day, or just decided now is the time… here’s the question.

When the world returns to normal, will you return to pay TV?

It could be that 2021 is the best year the pay TV industry has seen in a decade. It could be that as we all breathe a collective sigh of relief, we’ll see discretionary spending jump in a way we haven’t seen before. After all, it’s been pointed out that the pandemic of 1918-1920 led to a spending spree that lasted nine years.

I personally find that traditional pay TV brings a lot of value. The old chestnut “I only watch 10 channels” doesn’t really hold true once you’ve seen everything on those ten channels. There are hundreds of channels out there and they’ve changed and evolved since you’ve last seen them. Some, like AMC and TBS, have turned into bingewatcher’s havens where one show airs all day. Others have introduced all sorts of new programming. Even Discovery, which I had personally written off years ago, is churning out nostalgiafests like four new episodes of Dirty Jobs. There’s a lot more out there on those channels you’ve forgotten about.

Let’s not forget about sports

Live sports and pay TV go together perfectly. Sure, streaming is out there for some sports, and there’s value there. But what you really want is today’s game, delivered reliably anywhere you are. Pay TV is perfect for that and it’s a great value. It’s also the only place you can see all the NFL games… right on DIRECTV. Will sports draw you back to pay TV? Or has that door closed for you?

Leave a comment below! I’m curious to see what you’re thinking.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.