Cutting the cable cord: is it time?

Some weeks ago, Nick Wingfield at the Wall Street Journal and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Nick: So are people ready to cut the cable cord yet?

[note from me: “cutting the cord” does not refer to childbirth, sorry; it’s a play on what has happened to the phone business as so many people — nearly 10% have gone cell-phone only in the past decade]

Me: No. We don’t see it in our data, in fact, we don’t really measure it that much because the numbers are so small.

Nick: Hmmm. [silence]

This silence made me uneasy. It’s a good question and it’s one I wanted to have an answer for. I told Nick that we would probably start tackling this in earnest in early 2009 because by then it would be measurable via surveys. 

Then something funny happened. In a series of in-depth interviews I did with people who watch more than an hour of online video a week (the average is 56 minutes a week), these participants volunteered to me that they had recently abandoned cable.

The range was surprising:

– A 24-year old employee by day and student by night. He and his young wife can’t afford cable on their tight budget. By buying a few iTunes episodes each month, streaming a bunch for free on CBS.com, ABC.com, and Hulu.com, and by having a Netflix subscription (and an Xbox 360 through which Netflix streaming can occur), they get all their video needs satisfied for half the price of their prior cable bill.

– A 37-year old homemaker with three kids who has never had cable before because it was costly (and because most if it was inappropriate for her children – I need to comment on that in a later post), is now happy that she will never need cable.

And then this: Nick’s article in today’s WSJ about cable cord-cutting. I’m not surprised he found the examples he did. I found mine without hardly looking. Looks like our next survey is going to have to dive deep into this!

Exciting times ahead, eh, cable companies?

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5 Responses to Cutting the cable cord: is it time?

  1. […] expected to manifest. But given the likelihood of cable cord-cutting in the coming years (see my post on that), it’s wise for Comcast to start building these consumer connections […]

  2. I am leaning closer to cutting the cord…getting really sick of paying high cable costs each month…with Apple TV, Hulu, ABC.com and just getting over the air HD, I might just do it…

  3. […] The SlingCatcher answers that question. As I wrote in my OTT ranking report, the number one thing that these boxes need to do to stand a chance is call CBS.com, ABC.com, and Hulu.com and set up deals for content distribution (sorry, CW, I, uh, didn’t have room to include you). With those deals in place, any OTT box would jump light years ahead of the pack and provide the first serious threat to cable at a time when people are already starting to consider cutting the cable cord. […]

  4. […] the cable cord, Part 2 This topic keeps coming up. I wrote about it recently and have been hearing more and more from people who do it about how they pull it off. The most […]

  5. Jay Rutherford says:

    I wonder if maybe Apple TV may not be around in the distant future. Too many good alternatives.
    -Jay the DV Cable guy

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