If you are one of the millions of Americans who has cut the cord from cable or other traditional pay TV providers in exchange for streaming services such as Netflix, you are about to find yourself with a lot more company.
That’s the forecast from a study about cord cutting and the streaming TV market, released last week by the research firm eMarketer. According to its research, 33 million Americans will cut the cord this year, as the use of so-called over the top (OTT) streaming services continues to eat away at the position of pay TV providers.
That would mark a 33 percent increase over the number of cord cutters a year ago. Previously, eMarketer had forecast that 27.1 million would abandon pay TV this year.
The influence of streaming video services such as Netflix and YouTube is becoming so prevalent that eMarketer estimates that more than 50 million Americans will have cut the cord within three years.
Pay TV providers have been dealing with the pressures of losing subscribers for years as customers look for ways to cut expenses by shedding TV packages often loaded with channels they rarely, if ever, watch. And it’s the desire to pick and choose entertainment providers based on specific content offerings that eMarketer said is behind the majority of cord cutters’ reasons for dropping their pay TV providers.
“Consumers increasingly choose services on the strength of the programming they offer, and the platforms are stepping up with billions in spending on premium shows,” said eMarketer principal analyst Paul Verna.
“Another factor driving the acceleration of cord cutting is the availability of compelling and affordable live TV packages that are delivered via the internet without the need for installation fees or hardware.”
eMarketer estimates that 186.7 million U.S. adults will watch pay TV this year, but that figure will fall by nearly 4 percent from 2017’s viewership levels.
In contrast to pay TV’s viewer figures, eMarketer said 192 million Americans are expected to watch streaming content from YouTube at least once a month this year, while Netflix will draw in almost 148 million monthly viewers, and Amazon will claim nearly 89 million viewers a month.
As part of their efforts to retain their subscribers, pay TV providers have begun taking steps toward making a sort-of-truce with Netflix and other streaming companies. Cable TV giants such as Comcast, Charter and Cox all offer options that let their subscribers access and watch Netflix through their set-top boxes. Several providers also allow direct streaming of YouTube, as well.
However, eMarketer analyst Christopher Bendtsen said that despite the pay TV companies’ efforts, the trend of losing subscribers to streaming services is one that will only continue to color the TV watching habits of viewers.
“These partnerships are still in the early stages, so we don’t foresee them having a significant impact reducing churn [losses] this year,” Bendtsen said. “With more pay TV and OTT partnerships expected in the future, combined with other strategies, providers could eventually slow, but not stop, the losses.”