The time has come for me to cut ties with my cable box. Don’t get me wrong — I love TV. I love it with a passion. Growing up, I spent most of my days after school watching cable from the minute I got home until dinner time. I look back on those many hours logged in front of the TV fondly — and while that fondness hasn’t changed between age 13 to 30, the screen itself has undergone a drastic transformation.
Aside from simply slimming down, TVs have become gateways to limitless entertainment options with the help of over-the-top (OTT) devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Apple TV and more. And streaming services, accessed via these OTT devices, have pushed cable into the realm of nice-to-have rather than a necessity. But since I love TV so much and want every possible entertainment option, I’ve held on to my cable subscription for dear life — until now.
I’ve used a Roku for years and never paid attention to my streaming versus cable ratio, but recently I discovered that cable has received very little of my attention. The majority of my TV time has been spent on Netflix, Amazon, and HBO Now. The only time I find myself on cable is to watch live events, but with streaming options that provide access to live broadcasts, such as Sling TV, Playstation Vue, DirectTV Now, and YouTube TV, I can no longer justify keeping the huge, clunky cable box and the equally huge, monthly bill.
That’s why it’s time for me to cut the cord — and I’m not alone. eMarketer predicts that this year, 22.2 million total U.S. adults will cut the cord on cable, satellite or telco TV service — up 33% from 16.7 million in 2016. Leitchman Research Group also reported that the top pay-TV companies lost 405,000 net subscribers in three months, which is nearly double their net losses of 250,000 during the same time period in the previous year.
And as cable subscriptions decrease, usage of OTT devices is on the rise. Streaming boxes have gained the most traction so far, reaching 40% of the market, though Smart TVs and game consoles are not far behind1. Roku has taken the lead as the most popular streaming option, outselling Apple TV and Google Chromecast more than two-to-one in the U.S2. I love my Roku and am confident that it will get me through this cable to total streaming transition.
I feel further justified in my decision to cut the cord, since original content from streaming services is expanding — proving that when it comes to incredible content, streaming services take the cake. This year, Netflix is increasing their original content budget from $6 to $8 billion. Next, Amazon Prime will spend $4.5 billion and HBO and Hulu will both spend $2.5 billion on their original programming. As this content on streaming services gain popularity, more people will likely go the way of yours truly and cut the cord in exchange for these options — meaning marketers need to act fast to ensure they reach their audiences.
Cutting cable is bittersweet for me since it’s been such a big part of my life, but nostalgia doesn’t justify the high cost and lack of use. Becoming a streaming-only consumer will allow me to customize my viewing and focus on things that I will assuredly like, as opposed to channel surfing and sifting through excess content. And I also expect that the advertising I’m served will be much more personalized to my needs and lifestyle, optimized to complement the OTT viewing environment. This means that my favorite brands — as well as new brand that I haven’t hear of yet – will have to navigate the OTT frontier.
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- Intelligence Report: State of OTT (comScore, April 2017)
- Streaming Media Players: Brand Market Share by Installed Base (Parks Associates, August 2017)