The downfall of cable television

Cable television is dying. According to, America’s largest cable TV providers of the United States cable industry lost around 410,000 subscribers during the first quarter of the year in 2017. There are around 90 million U.S. subscribers who still pay about $100 a month for traditional cable television. Most people are still paying for cable because it is linked to their Internet payment plan. According to a survey by Deloitte, “56 percent consider the bundle a top three reason to keep their TV subscription, partly because it makes the overall price seem like a better deal.” 

Younger generations are moving away from cable television and towards social media and streaming services. In 2017, social media users grew by 13 percent and Internet users grew by seven percent globally. The average person spent about an hour and 46 minutes on social media per day, and, according to a report by Common Sense Media, many teenagers spent more than seven hours a day online, streaming, and using social media. Social media has replaced television as the entertainment of choice. 

“My parents have cable but we barely use it. I use streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu and I am usually just on my phone,” Anissa Askew (’20) said.

Photo courtesy of Arjun Batra / Sports Section Editor.

The availability of data and unlimited plans allows users to stream entertainment such as Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Disney+ and more straight from their phones anywhere they are.  According to, “Netflix generated more revenue than any other app in Apple’s app store in 2017.” This accessibility and mobility causes many users to favor streaming apps. Analysts at UBS estimate a 6.7 percent decline compared to the 6.2 percent decline in 2019, which will result in 6.2 million people canceling payment for television this year. Many people believe it is due to new streaming services. 

“I have cable but I do not use it. I mostly use Netflix and Hulu to watch anything,” Emma Romaine (’22) said.

 Monthly subscriptions to most on-demand entertainment services are less than the average monthly cost of cable and offers a larger variety of content.

“Cable is getting more expensive and my family is about to cancel it because we do not use it so much. All of the best shows are on streaming services like Netflix and HBO anyway,” Zachary Ostroff (’21) said.

Some people still prefer cable in order to watch live shows and content not available on streaming services. 

“My family and I use cable TV more often than other streaming services; usually we resort to other streaming services when there is nothing of interest on cable TV” James Lavelle (’21) said. 

Although it is believed that cable is a dying industry, the entertainment streaming services are growing to replace it and allow users to view a wider array of content. 

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