Is Cable TV dying? This is a question we get a lot at RealtyCom Partners, but I wouldn’t call 911 just yet. Its true, linear TV subscription rates have fallen and continue to fall, but we still see significant numbers of apartment residents that subscribe to cable TV.
First some perspective – personally, I am a cord cutter. I disconnected my cable TV package (they didn’t make it easy by the way) earlier this year. I made this decision not because of cost, but because of value. I have limited time for TV, and I found that more and more of my content was streaming, from external sources of content I was subscribing to over and above my cable bill – so this made taking the leap a bit easier. Before that, I was a cable TV subscriber since way back, being a former cable guy from the late 90’s until 2010.
RealtyCom manages revenue share for over 300,000 units, so we have a rather unique view into the telecom buying habits of apartment residents across the US. Over the past four years, we have seen average video subscription rates drop 10 percentage points. When you look deeper, there are many contributing factors on how subscription rates differ from property to property including geographic location, resident profile and the dominant cable TV providers in the area. Often the reduction in cable subscribers if offset by a resident purchasing a higher speed Internet product.
So what is driving this change? It’s easy to place this all at the feet of younger apartment residents or at the growing range of streaming content. Certainly those are contributors, but I also think that the ever increasing number of mobile devices, faster LTE and now 5G mobile data plans, smart TV’s, Roku boxes, and Amazon Fire sticks are factors as well. I also believe that cable channels continue to increase and the packages that are driven by programmers just aren’t as valued by consumers as they once were. Consumers continue to prefer skinnier bundles for fewer channels at a better cost, a custom experience with recommendations and reviews and less commercials.
Interestingly, a new law in Maine (L.D. 832) is attempting to force cable operators into providing the option of purchasing access to cable channels on an individual basis. Meaning, not only would consumers in Maine have the ability to say “yes” to ESPN while saying “no” to ESPN2, but they’d have the ability, for example, to only purchase NFL Monday Night Football without any of ESPN’s other shows. This would be a huge shake-up to the industry and further revolutionize the way we consume cable TV.
So, is Cable TV dying? No. But it appears that the real winner is the overall video content business – content creators, distributors and especially viewers since there are more choices than ever before. RealtyCom is here to help navigate these changes while preserving choice for your residents, technological improvements to your property, and ensuring the most revenue and value to our customers.