For the first time, Comcast has more Internet than cable subscribers. The undeniable trend in TV watching habits could signal welcome changes are on the horizon for cord cutters and TV fans everywhere.
Comcast executive Niel Smit confirmed that Broadband subscribers have surpassed the company’s cable customers at an earnings call this morning. The news follows the growing trend toward TV streaming via the Internet, and the rising interest in cutting the cable cord.
Comcast, which tends to rank poorly in customer satisfaction, has seen competition in the TV sphere has risen of late. Several alternative TV options have launched this year already.
DISH Network unveiled its Internet TV service, Sling TV, in February. Using the Internet instead of cables or satellite, Sling TV provides subscribers with access to popular channels like AMC and ESPN. The basic package is $20/month—a significant savings compared to standard cable.
Ownzones also launched recently. It too offers a low-cost ($9) monthly subscription for access to a set of channels. Ownzones’ Chromecast offer—a free device for a $9 value—helped to attract customers who may stick around, adopting the cord cutter life.
As Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and other TV streaming services expand their offerings, including original series, more people are deciding cable subscriptions aren’t worth the money. Hit TV shows and movies are available at a much lower cost from streaming services than cable companies.
More cable TV alternatives are expected to come on the scene in the coming months. Apple announced plans to launch a TV streaming service that would operate similarly to Sling TV. The service will be separate from the Apple TV media streaming device, opening up the door for more customers.
Media streaming devices are more popular than ever—another trend giving Comcast some trouble. One only needs to look at the buzz over a Roku 4 release or the Apple TV rumors to see that interest is high.
Especially now that fans can watch live sports without cable—and not just European futbol, but the major mainstream US sports—Comcast and other cable providers will have a harder time holding onto customers.
Which means cable companies will be forced to make changes. Comcast, Time Warner and the others will no longer be able to afford to withhold the options customers want. The trend signals that consumers will start to see more flexible TV packages, like Verizon’s “skinny bundles,” for lower prices.
In addition, true cable TV alternatives are expected to continue to multiply to meet demand. At long last, the cable/satellite/Internet TV market will involve some meaningful competition between providers. That spells great news for TV fans and anyone interested in cutting the cable cord.