[Study] 63 Percent of Cable Users Don’t Know If They’ll Keep Their Service Next Year

cable left behind
As more awareness is created for alternatives to cable television services, cord cutting continues to press forward as a viable option in the minds of current cable customers. In fact, subscribers are leaving cable TV in droves, with a recent report from Strategy Analytics finding that 479,000 US consumers dropped their pay TV in Q2 2015 alone.

We randomly surveyed 604 cable users to find out if they felt they would keep their paid cable services 12 months from the time surveyed. Our findings concluded that 63% of those people were unsure which TV service their money would ultimately go towards in the next year.

In addition, we also asked those participants to rate their most important features and content selections of their cable service, as well as inquired about any service bundles they might have (Internet, TV, phone, etc.). Here are the specifics:


The Survey

Our random survey of 604 cable users occurred in June of 2014 and was conducted online independently of this site. We asked participants 5 specific questions to build our data with. Accompanying each question were specifics related to a vast array of TV services, all of which are detailed in graphs below. In order of presentation to each person surveyed, here are the 5 questions we asked:

  1. How likely are you to be using each paid service 12 months from now?
  2. Please describe your opinion of the following paid services to watch TV shows, movies, and other content.
  3. For any paid service (TV, movies, etc.) you are looking to purchase, how important is each feature in your decision?
  4. In choosing your personal service package (cable, satellite, online), how important is each set of content to you?
  5. Do you currently pay for a bundle of entertainment products from the same company?


Key Findings

63% of cable subscribers are not sure which TV service they will have in 12 months

Cable users 12 months

The choices we gave participants for TV services to select from were cable, satellite, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO NOW, and Sling TV. The key takeaway from the numbers is that only 37% of cable customers felt confident they would retain their cable service a year from the time surveyed. This isn’t particularly surprising as the growing number of cable TV alternatives makes leaving the rising prices of cable TV behind much more feasible and attractive.

“Free streaming services are making all of the above more irrelevant every year.” (Male, 35-44)


Cable users are more satisfied with Netflix than they are with cable

cable TV satisfaction rating

When asked to describe their opinions of TV services they use to watch shows, movies, and other content, a whopping 75% of cable users said they were the most satisfied with Netflix, ranking it at the top of the list with cable TV satisfaction trailing by 11%.

“Over the past few months, we watch less ‘television’ and more Netflix.” (Female, 25-34)


Quality content, price, and on-demand are the top 3 purchase considerations cable users feel are most important

Cable users important features

Price tends to reign supreme where purchasing decisions are generally concerned, but that’s not the full story with paid television programming. With quality content edging out price by 4%, this goes to show that viewers are willing to consider precisely what they’re going to get for their money prior to opening their wallets.

Another point of mention is that cable rates are increasing at a time when prices for other TV services are decreasing, so with the constant addition of quality content and original programming across the landscape of services like Netflix, Sling TV, etc., price is likely the driving factor behind 63% of cable users being uncertain of their future TV service.

“I HATE the monopoly of the cable companies. I don’t like that I only have the choice of AT&T currently versus ONLY Comcast at another location…I think it is too expensive, not well-regulated, and mostly a scam with few options.” (Female, 25-34)

“Cable and Satellite need to create more compelling content.” (Male, 45-54)


Basic cable (ESPN, HGTV, etc.) and broadcast channels (FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.) are what cable users find most important

Cable users content

With basic (ESPN, HGTV, TNT, AMC, etc.) and broadcast channels being the main things tying cable users to their service, streaming options like Sling TV making those basic cable channels available for a nominal fee is giving cable TV one less corner to hide in. However, no streaming service to date has been able to land all of the major networks (CBS,ABC, NBC, FOX), giving cable TV an advantage. Of course, many people (but not all) could get those channels and other local stations with the use of an antenna if they wanted.


“I would be open to other options, but am tied to cable for access to our favorite sports teams’ broadcasts.” (Female, 55-64)

“I pay for BASIC that just gives me ABC, CBS etc.– it’s like $12 a month but then there’s $13 in taxes. Such a rip off.” (Female, 55-64)


92% of cable users have a bundle of some combination between TV, Internet, and phone services

Cable users with bundle

Bundles are a way for cable companies to offer more than just television programming, and while that’s likely driving short-run decisions about TV services for consumers, the long term impact of bundles isn’t quite as clear.

“A lot of people only retain cable or satellite because of the Internet bundle.” (Male, 45-54)


What These Findings Mean

Shape up or ship out, cable providers! With the growing number of streaming services quickly moving to offer the same benefits and programming for a fraction of the cost, 63% of cable users are at least contemplating jumping ship to take advantage of equal content for better prices. Is cord cutting perfect? Of course not. It still has a long way to go. However, it’s becoming a more feasible option for the average person. And if there was ever a wake-up call to the top players in an age-old industry where longevity is clearly being threatened, this would be it.

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