Friday, January 25, 2008

U.S. Cable Subscribers Down

A recent In-Stat study discovered that the number of U.S. households subscribed to cable TV service is down, even though worldwide, cable TV subscriber numbers are up. In 2007, there were just under 68 million U.S. households with cable TV. This sounds like a lot (and it is), but it's half a million fewer than the year prior. Why have numbers dropped so significantly?

The obvious reason is that many customers are gravitating toward other means of getting their TV fix, like satellite, DVDs, and even the Internet. I know one journalist who doesn't subscribe to cable: he simply waits until a hot TV program is released to DVD, buys each season's set, and watches the episodes at his convenience. In the end, it's cheaper, and there are no pesky commercials to skip through. But on the flip side, you lose the feeling of anticipation in having to wait an entire week to find out "what happens next". If everyone followed this theory 20 years ago, would anyone have really been so anxious to find out who killed J.R.?

Worldwide, however, the news about cable TV is good. In-Stat reports that 91 million cable TV households are now digital, which is up 41% from last year. Most of these are in China. In the cable TV market overall, China also leads, followed by the U.S. and then India.

Hopefully an end to the Writer's Guild strike is in sight to provide a more compelling reason for the U.S. public to not only jump on the cable TV bandwagon, but the TV bandwagon period.

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