IS IT TRUE: “People don’t care about pay TV anymore”

I’ve started to hear this sort of thing and you probably have too. In certain circles, it’s even “cool” to say that pay television is dead and that cord cutting will be 100% of the market. That may be true in the future but it couldn’t be more wrong today.

Tons of people watch pay TV.

According to recent estimates, well over 186 million adults watch pay television. There are also a large number of children of course, but the data doesn’t include them for whatever reason. That’s a huge group of people.

On the other hand, only about 33 million adults have cut the cord. So only about 18% of people have abandoned pay TV. While that’s a big number, it’s not “everyone” and it’s not fair to say people don’t care about pay TV anymore since 82% of the viewing public certainly does.

Is cord cutting growing?

Cord-cutting is certainly growing, and it experienced about 32% year over year growth. That’s impressive until you realize that we saw 44% year over year growth in 2016. We don’t have enough data to say where the trends are heading, but I think if cord-cutting were really something that “everyone” was doing, then that growth line would go up not down.

We may be seeing an overall leveling off of cord-cutting, or a temporary slowdown. It’s really hard to tell right now. One thing for sure though is pay TV isn’t going anywhere today. Get back to me in 20 years and we might say that traditional pay TV is endangered.

Why do people say that pay TV is dead?

It’s cool to bash pay TV because it seems so “old-school” to some people. The idea of sitting in the living room while the major networks tell you what to watch seems like something out of the 1950s. But as uncool as that sounds, people do it. And of course pay TV isn’t just the living room anymore. Whether you go with satellite or one of the major cable companies, you’ll find apps that let you do everything that cord-cutters do. You can watch from anywhere, on practically any device.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Plenty of people use streaming services and still have pay TV. Plenty of people have antennas and still have pay TV. Chances are you’re one of them. There’s no reason that you have to count yourself in one camp or the other. There’s good content to be found on both sides. In fact many people say this is the best time for television viewing, and in order to really appreciate what’s out there you need to be streaming and watching traditional pay television.

It’s all about choice.

If you’re happiest watching the top 10 rated programs and all the local sports you could want, get an antenna. Put it up and there’s nothing more to pay, ever. On the other hand, if you want hundreds of channels of live entertainment including sports from all over the country, pay TV is going to be your best bet. If you want just a little live TV and a lot of on demand content, then stream everything. Or do a little of this plus a little of that. The choice is up to you.

Of course, the best choice is shopping at for all your antenna, pay TV or streaming needs. That’s one way in which we all win.


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 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.